City Council to NYC Department of Education: “It’s October, and it’s still #TooHotToLearn!”

City Council to NYC Department of Education: “It’s October, and it’s still #TooHotToLearn!”

New DOE/SCA Report Fails to Provide Useful Information or a Plan to Get Air Conditioners in Schools as Temperatures Continue to Rise

Council Members Turn to Parents, Students, and Teachers to Crowdsource Data on A/Cs in Schools: http://bit.ly/TooHotToLearn 

City Hall, N.Y. – As temperatures are projected to reach 82 degrees in New York City today, City Council Members Brad Lander, Margaret Chin, Daniel Dromm, and Julissa Ferreras-Copeland criticized a new report from the NYC Department of Education and School Construction Authority on air conditioning in schools for failing to provide useful data, and for the lack of planning to install A/Cs in NYC public schools where it is too hot to learn.

The report (attachment available for download here) was required by the City Council as a term and condition in the FY 16-17 budget, passed in June. At the time, the DOE and SCA expressed a willingness to work with the Council on a plan to install air conditioning in schools that need it. The first step was to identify and prioritize the schools most in need.

Unfortunately, the report fails to provide critical information. It identifies 17% of schools with full air-conditioning, and 5% of schools (90 schools) that lack A/C entirely. However, 78% of schools (1,590) are simply identified as “Partial A/C” -- which means only that they have at least 1 A/C unit in the building -- without any information about how many classrooms, auditoriums, gyms, or cafeterias remain to be covered. Meanwhile, just 4 schools are currently having A/Cs installed.

Disappointed by the lack of detail in the DOE/SCA report, Council Members launched the #TooHotToLearn campaign, asking parents, students, and educators, to provide detail missing from the report. Members of the public are asked to provide information about their school using the online form at: http://bit.ly/TooHotToLearn

The Council Members cited data showing a significant increase in recent years, due to climate change, in the number of days in June, September, and now October where temperatures rise above 80 degrees. Most months of 2016 have been the hottest ones on record, and 2016 is likely to surpass 2015 as the hottest year ever.     

Our kids can’t learn in sweltering classrooms,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “As climate change brings more days in June, September, and now even the middle of October when rising temperatures make it too hot to learn, we need to get serious about getting A/Cs in all our classrooms and critical public spaces. We need real data -- not a painfully incomplete report -- to set priorities and make a real plan. Thanks to my colleagues for joining in this call for action and for students, parents, and teachers throughout the city for telling us why their school is #TooHotToLearn.”

"A sweltering classroom is no place for students or teachers," said Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. "I taught summer school nearly every year for over two decades.  The classroom temperature often exceeded 90 degrees.  These conditions are a distraction from learning and may even be dangerous.  I urge the NYC Department of Education to install air conditioners in all public schools as quickly as possible."

"Every child deserves an adequate space to learn and that includes regulated temperatures,” said  Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “There are already many factors affecting our children's ability to focus and learn, and the climate on any given day should not add difficulty. As parents, educators and legislators, having accurate information is the best way to identify problems and solutions, and improve learning outcomes. We look forward to working with the entire schools community to ensure every child is getting the best possible learning experience our tax dollars can offer."

“This week’s heatwave is an important reminder of how it is too hot to learn in too many of our city’s classrooms,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “We as a city must do better by our schoolchildren, and that includes ensuring that every student has a safe and comfortable environment in which to learn. To achieve that goal, we must have complete, not ‘partial,’ information about whether our classrooms have the air-conditioning units they need. Though I urge DOE and the School Construction Authority to fully divulge the A/C status of every classroom, I am proud to join Council Member Lander in this effort to gather the necessary information so we can adequately address this important issue for students, parents, and teachers.”

"Parents shouldn't have to hold bake sales for air conditioners so that classrooms are cool enough to learn in. It's a basic health and safety consideration and the City has reneged on its responsibility to address this issue for too long. This year was the hottest on record, and it's high time for the City to make a commitment to give every classroom some climate control," said Steve Hamill, parent of a public school 1st grader.

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