Don’t Make Students Freeze in School

Target: Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

Goal: Do not force children and staff to endure freezing temperatures—ensure that all Baltimore City schools have adequate and functioning heat.

Viral photos show elementary school children in Baltimore huddled in coats, hats, and gloves inside classrooms without functioning heat in the midst of the brutal cold snap engulfing the Northeast. Parents and others were outraged, resulting in closed schools and early dismissals, but a solution must be found so that students can receive an education, and not endanger themselves while doing so.

One Baltimore teacher, Aaron Maybin, says his first aid kit thermometer read 40 degrees inside his classroom, where he taught his young students to rub their hands together to keep warm. Maybin stated, “My students were freezing. Most were wearing coats, but some don’t have them.” And, as the photos circulating through media and social media illustrate, the vast majority of students and schools in this condition serve minority students, pointing to an even larger problem regarding funding and institutionalized discrimination.

Before the schools were closed down due to freezing temperatures, 60 schools reported heating issues during the school day. The school system says that the “old conditions” of the buildings are to blame, resulting in drafts from leaky windows, poor insulation, burst pipes, and broken boilers. When Maybin entered his school to find freezing temperatures and half the lights off, the principal told him it was “due to nobody being there during the holidays to make sure the heat stayed on and pipes didn’t freeze.” While maintenance teams have been able to deal with some of the problems, schools had to be shut down throughout the school system because of the temperatures.

The choice to cancel classes, however, is a complicated one and is not a permanent solution. As Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises says, “We are balancing the need for young people to connect to meals, the need to connect with caring adults and safe spaces, as well as the fact that we want young people learning.” Many of these schools serve underprivileged students who may not have access to meals or childcare at home. And yet, it is inhumane to force students and teachers to exist in these inhumane conditions. Sign below to demand that Baltimore City schools be equipped with adequate forms of heating immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mayor Pugh,

The situation in Baltimore City’s school system is dire. Students and teachers were confined in brutally cold temperatures in their schools because of non-functioning and inadequate heating systems. This is unacceptable, but continuing to cancel school days is not a solution. Not only do many students and families rely on school for meals and childcare, education is a vital element of life that these children are owed and must not be deprived of.

As Baltimore teacher Aaron Maybin said in a tweet, “It’s really ridiculous the kind of environment we place our children into and expect them to get an education. I got two classes in one room, kids are freezing. Lights are off. No computers. We’re doing our best but our kids don’t deserve this.” These conditions must not be allowed to continue. I urge you to ensure that space heaters are provided in the interim, and that all of Baltimore’s schools be equipped with functioning heating systems immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Twitter/Aaron Maybin

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2 Comments

  1. Rosslyn Osborne says:

    Err, What century are we in again???
    Get with it and fix this problem up post haste… These children are the worlds future. Thank you

  2. Gen Agustsson says:

    stop it! education not incarceration! turn on a heat or else.

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