If You Can't Stand the Heat...Too Bad

Today was the first legitimately sweltering day in the classroom this spring. Our classroom is on the third floor, just above the trees that shade the classrooms below us. Once the weather cracks 75 degrees the room becomes...unpleasant.

Luckily, today we were on a field trip, so we weren't trapped in our classroom/sauna for too long. But tomorrow with the forecast predicting 87 degrees and humid, we will be on for a long and sweaty day.

This is not a new experience for my students and me. Since I started teaching I've never had the privilege of an air conditioner in my classroom. I've tried a variety of things - bringing in a water cooler, multiple fans, ice pops at the end of the day - but none are a true substitute.

The lack of AC is more than just uncomfortable, it's nonsensical and borders on inhumane. When I think of the disparity between my students and their peers in the "haves" bracket, our AC-less classroom strikes me as one of the most simply profound examples of what its like in the classrooms filled with young "have-nots". Schools like mine have to stretch every dollar, and most dollars find their way going toward technology and essential materials. AC is a luxury most high-need schools literally cannot afford.

I realize there are countless jobs out there where people are expected to work long hours without air conditioning. But is it really reasonable to expect students to focus on learning in such an environment? Based on my experience, I can offer a pretty simple answer. No, it's not.


Greig Roselli said…
I heard a kid on the street tell her mother, "Mom, you won't believe it. Mr. Smith turned on the AC in class. That was in Brooklyn."

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