Where are you reading this from? Your office? Your home? I want you to imagine doing your job outside, or without any heat. Could you perform as well in the cold? This isn’t a ridiculous exercise. Last night I received this comment from a teacher at Camden High:
I teach at Camden High and spent the entire day in a building without heat. This is not unusual. We wear our coats and are advised to wear “thermals.” When a cold snap hits, it is brutal.
Imagine a workplace where your employer says to wear thermals and a coat during days like today. Imagine your own child trying to learn in that environment. Then tell Camden residents their children deserve this.
In New Jersey, our politicians saw these conditions, saw the $100 million allotted by the SDA to address them, and delayed that project for three years (then only provided half the money). The legacy of the state’s political leadership is that such renovations could have been completed. That this teacher, and her students, could have been working from a modern classroom that allowed them the same basic shelter provided to students in schools everywhere.
Remember this the next time someone says money towards a school in Camden is “money down the toilet” or we criticize Camden students for their test scores. These students struggle to survive in a world that is hard for many to imagine. Today, that means wearing thermals to work, and trying to take notes with hands stiff from the cold.