State funding bill doesn’t do enough to address problem
Malcolm Gay and Meghan E. Irons’s criticism of the crumbling and sometimes collapsing buildings that serve as institutions of education in Massachusetts is precise (“An old school problem,” Page A1, Dec. 4). Although the Student Opportunity Act provides additional funds for under-resourced schools to improve special education, among other programs, it falls short of addressing the overcrowded and rotting infrastructures where some students learn.
This shortcoming will hinder the ability of the budget increase to give every student an equal opportunity. As stated in the article, building a new school can cost more than $300 million; however, the Massachusetts School Building Authority that is in charge of constructing educational facilities is due to receive only $200 million as a budget increase. The Student Opportunity Act does not do enough to implement this statewide educational reform.
The additional $1.5 billion that the law will provide will make a difference, since much-needed counselors, nurses, teachers, and social workers will be hired. But Massachusetts is a worldwide hub for education, and a difference is just not good enough. We owe the students of the Commonwealth an equal opportunity at a quality education, no matter the cost.
Elebetel F. Assefa
The writer attended the Boston Public Schools after emigrating from Ethiopia as a teenager.
We need to commit to greening our schools
Kudos to the Globe for its excellent article regarding the state of school buildings. Adding to the concerns raised are the critical and expensive renovations and building needed to address the climate crisis.
Buildings are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and schools are the second-largest building type in the United States. Multiple architectural reports over the past two decades have shown how greening schools can reduce emissions and improve the teaching and learning environment. The costs are substantial and necessary.
As the Globe article notes, we have deferred school maintenance costs to the detriment of student education. The US Green Building Council has reported that, given the annual energy savings that would apply, construction for energy conservation is not more costly than older methods.
We need to retrofit most schools. New funding needs call for state and federal Green New Deal approaches. We can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and improve our education system. Students know this well, and they will strike for climate action again on Friday. Let’s support their justified call for change and make our school buildings climate and teaching ready.
The writer is a professor emeritus in the department of public health at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.