Children in over thirty (30) DeKalb County School System schools will return to scenes like this one Thursday. A hard rain fell on Metro Atlanta Wednesday evening. And the school roofs that should have been replace long ago yielded little -- if any -- resistance.
Buckets catching rain water will be deployed. Janitors will mop furiously. Ceiling tiles will bulge and collapse. Halls will be impassable; bathrooms unusable. Indoor tarps (above) will groan with the weight of the newly collected rain.
Our children and their teachers will be exposed to a wide range of environmental risks. Indoor mold will continue growing unabated. Legionella will find a fertile host environment. And the petrochemical ingredients in the deteriorating roof above will be carried into our children's classrooms in the cascading rain.
The conditions in our schools are deplorable. And the serious risks we are exposing our children and their teachers to are unacceptable. A cursory visit to any of these campuses quickly reveals these truths. Common sense tells us no school should be like this. But they are. Over thirty of them are exactly like this. And on Thursday morning hundreds (if not thousands) of children will be going in to schools with these outrageous conditions.
It's easy to blame the administration that allowed this occur. The evidence of mismanagement, malfeasance and short sightedness is overwhelming. But that's not the issue I suggest we focus on at this moment. I believe we should examine something else.
What are we telling our children when we send them to schools in this condition? What are we as a community saying about the value we place on their education? What do our actions (or inaction) tell our children about the importance of their school?
Would any of us buy groceries in a store where water poured through the roof and aisles were impassable? Of course not. Would any of us shop anywhere the bathroom was off limits and the threat of a falling ceiling tile was ever present? No way. Would any of us eat in a restaurant where buckets caught rain, the floor was soaked and the aroma of mold filled the air? Not a chance.
Why wouldn't we chose to frequent establishments like that?
And why do we accept such conditions for our children and their teachers?
When we send our children to schools in this condition, what are we telling them? What are we saying about the value we place on their education? Their safety? Their welfare?
When we send our children into schools like this, what are we saying about ourselves?