In early April, Dr. Lori Peek was published in The New York Times with an opinion piece about the danger of natural disasters facing American schools.
Last week, thousands of teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky walked out of their classrooms. West Virginia teachers did the same thing in February, and Arizona may be next. They are protesting state governments that are failing to pay teachers a decent wage, replace outdated textbooks, ensure manageable class sizes and fix school buildings in need of repair.
But our schools have even bigger problems.
Every weekday during the academic year, more than 50 million childrenacross the United States enter public school buildings. Many of these buildings are so dilapidated and poorly designed that children’s health and safety are at risk.
Some are in floodplains or lack heat or air conditioning. Others lie near fault lines and haven’t been built to withstand earthquakes.
Young Americans are coming of age in a world that is drier and hotter than ever before. Wildfires, severe storms, floods and other environmental extremes will become more frequent and intense. Natural hazards, when combined with crumbling infrastructure, can lead to disaster.