Saturday, April 12, 2008

Corona High School

I know most of you aren't immediately affected by this news, but it's absolutely astounding. Basically, there's a high school in the city I live in, Tempe, AZ, that because of poorly designed ventilation system has four times the levels of carbon dioxide of what is considered safe. As a result, there have been documented cases of asthma and even brain tumors and cancers...

You would think that such a thing would prompt direct action by the government, but no, they are still trying to get funding for the repairs:

"But last week the board voted unanimously to accept a judge's decision to uphold the board's 2007 decision to deny the funds. Tempe Union High School District officials estimate it will cost $11 million to $12 million to finish upgrading the ventilation system."

So, just think, we as a society are willing to shell out the bucks for bigger vehicles, bigger houses, even bigger barbecue grills so that we can show off how much more we have than our neighbors, but we are unwilling to spend the money on our infrastructure at expense of our health.

But more than that, an economist has recently pegged the current cost of the Iraq war at $3 trillion. That's money that's largely been flushed down the toilet. If you don't think our current economic troubles are not directly a result of this war, you're wrong. Just think what we could have done with that money.

Here's the article:

A postscript: My wife was nice enough to let me attend the parents meeting to discuss this problem. Here are my insights from that meeting. The details are a little murky:

1) First of all, driving down to the meeting (located in a library
right next to the high school), I was reminded that this area of
Tempe is relatively affluent. Driving by the high school, I was struck by how
new and modern it looked from the outside.

2) The school is apparently pretty high achieving. The kids that
go there do really well and score pretty high in achievement tests
especially compared to other kids. They talked about this fact as
to why it would be difficult to prove statistically the health
effects causing problems in the kids. Because even with this, they
still show up and achieve.

3) Many of the parents were frustrated. The study was done in
2006, but many of the parents only heard about it recently. They
were angry because by law the administration were supposed to inform
the parents of this issue, especially parents with asthmatic kids.
(I'm a little fuzy about the legal details here).

4) The problem is inherintly a problem with the design. As a
result of a bad design, the ventillation is poor. As a result, they
were concerned with mold and CO2.

5) Also, there has not been follow up studies since, almost as if
the district has been, for all intense and purposes ignoring this
issue. Som parents wanted to sue the school over it.

I'm not clear on all the details, but there were some definite
strong feelings. I just want to say, though, I'm sure there are
similar problems (and worse) that occur in low income/minority
schools that aren't getting the publicity or the parent activism.

I left the meeting thinking, ok, I will support their efforts, even
though I don't have kids in that area. But will they lend their support to lower income communities that have even more severe problems? Somehow I doubted


JRV said...

Scott, unfortunately I dont think any help will ever get to those low income schools. I wish school funding was not determined by property taxes. To me it doesnt make a shred of sense.
It sends such a negative message to the kids. No wonder most of them have no hope and ambition by the time they get to their low funded high school. Theyve known their whole life, no one around them has any hope for them.
So sad.

H said...

I guess my question would be, why did this even go to a vote? Bad air should be fixed. Period. I would hate to be on that school board and be the one that said, "no, I don't care about the health and wealfare of our students. It is more economical to let the kids suffer than to fix the system." Hmmm, fix the system. That makes sense on so many levels.

Matthew J. said...

You don't know it Scott, but when I was a kid, I went to that school. Have 4 Letters in Choir, Two in Baseball from CdS.


Yeah and fix the air!