I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Teachers & Students Ask: Will @GovChristie's Office Be Air-Conditioned This Week?

It was hot in Central Jersey today, and it looks like most of the state will be in the 90's tomorrow. This heat is potentially dangerous: an advisory is in effect until tomorrow night all through South Jersey. The National Weather Service says:
A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS... STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM... STAY OUT OF THE SUN... AND CHECK UP ON THE ELDERLY, RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS. [emphasis mine]
"Air-conditioned room," huh? I wonder how many schools throughout South Jersey have even one of those?
With many school districts in the area forced to extend their academic year thanks to a brutal winter, parents and administrators alike are keeping a close eye on how students handle the heat, especially in schools without air conditioning. 
And although some schools will be in session right up until the end of the month, the general consensus seems simple: ride it out. 
Not surprisingly, the topic is a source of frustration to many parents. 
"Why do schools have warmth in the winter but not offer relief in the summer? To me it seems like a safety issue to be stuck in a crowded, overly hot and sticky building for almost seven hours a day," wrote a mother in Deptford. [emphasis mine]
You know, Mom, that's a very good question. And if you click through and read the whole thing, you'll see it's actually a question that many superintendents around the state are asking:
All administrators acknowledged that the situation was far from ideal, however. Coleman said Woodstown will hold a bond referendum in November that includes upgrading facilities, especially air conditioning. Loudenslager also said Deptford would hold a similar referendum in the near future. 
"It's something our students have coped with for a long time," Coleman said. 
"One of the big things we're trying doing is to get air conditioning and bring the building up to modern standards."
Deptford and Woodstown are working-class and middle-class towns: there's at least some chance that voters there will approve what's become a necessary expense, because these towns know there's no chance the state will help them out.

It's also true that the state will leave Camden, and Trenton, and Paterson, and Newark, and the many other urban districts that educate large numbers of at-risk students hanging as well. And they don't have the tax bases to raise funds for capital improvements -- like air-conditioning.

But even as Chris Christie slashes and hacks away at state aid for school districts, he insists all of New Jersey's children should be trapped in these sweltering schools even longer:
Despite the improvements we are seeing in Newark and Camden, I believe we need to take bigger and broader steps to adjust our approach to K-12 education to address the new competitive world we live in. Our school calendar is antiquated both educationally and culturally. Life in 2014 demands something more for our students. It is time to lengthen both the school day and school year in New Jersey.
If student achievement is lagging at the exact moment when we need improvement more than ever in order to compete in the world economy, we should take these steps – every possible step – to boost student achievement.
And one key step is to lengthen the school day and the school year. So, working with Commissioner Cerf, I will present to you shortly a proposal to increase the length of both the school day and the school year in New Jersey. This is a key step to improve student outcomes and boost our competitiveness. We should do it now. [emphasis mine]
When did Christie come up with this little scheme? Why, January, of course, when it was nice and cold and no one thought to press him much on how he was going to provide air-conditioning to every school in Jersey. Unless he wasn't planning on doing that all along...

As I said before, there's no evidence simply increasing the school year or the time of the school day will do anything to increase student achievement.


We have significant variation in the length of the school day already, and that variation shows no correlation to the variation in student test outcomes. But this proposal to lengthen time in school was never about students: it was a distraction to keep the press from spending all of its time talking about Christie's scandals.

Well, the pace of Bridgegate coverage has slowed a bit, so it seems to me that now, in the heat of the late spring, we are at the perfect time to ask Chris Christie about his proposal once again:

Does Chris Christie still want kids to go to school in the brutal heat of July and August without air-conditioning? If he does, will he show solidarity with New Jersey's students and teachers by working in an office without air-conditioning?

I won't even ask if Christie has a plan to pay for air-conditioning: any money he could find would wind up in the pockets of corporations anyway.

Yeah, I keep my office as cold as a meat locker! What's it to you?

5 comments:

Marie Corfield said...

Never mind all the data that disproves this foolishness, I always love the mentality that "My school wasn't air conditioned when I was a kid." Especially when it's said from some air conditioned home or office.

Giuseppe said...

Finland has a shorter school day and year than most other countries and (for millionaire troll Mike Robertson), Finnish teachers are 100% unionized. In fact, the overall unionization rate in Finland is in the mid 70% range compared to the US rate of 11.3%.
When it got this hot, I and most of the other teachers allowed the kids to bring water bottles to school, it was something extra to fuss about but it gave the children some relief. The main office, nurse's room, teachers' lounge and principal's office were air conditioned. The trailers where the specialist teachers taught were air conditioned but the classroom teachers sweated buckets of human liquid detritus. By the end of the day, the teachers and kids were wasted, dehydrated and I was tired beyond human belief. Many eons ago.

Giuseppe said...

The classrooms became hot boxes and that's not even counting the body heat produced by 38 kids in my first year of teaching. The teachers would bring fans to school to circulate all that hot air, it was a tiny bit of relief. We did the best we could. The cafeteria/all purpose room was not air conditioned but there were plenty of large fans and the windows were opened. It was still very hot though.

Saffron said...

WHY IS IT THAT SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICES ARE ALL AIR CONDITIONED? LET'S SEE PRINCIPALS AND SUPERINTENDENTS GIVE UP THEIRS. I GUESS IF YOU ARE ONE OF THE 1% (administrators) You deserve to be as comfortable as possible. FORGET THE LOW ON THE TOTEM POLE TEACHERS AND CHILDREN.

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