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. 

Please “like” the Local Knowledge Blog on Facebook!


  • The people who turn a blind eye to this are the same people who wonder allowed by urban crime is so bad. They should just work harder at school, right? Oh wait.

  • As a child who attended Camden schools and an adult who taught in Camden for close to 30 years, I KNOW that this is one of too many issues in the Camden school system that is controlled by politics…and, therefore, will never be righted. Everyone loses.

  • Top CEOs like former Brazilian billionaire Eike Battista, BlackBerry’s Thorstein Heins, J.C. Penney’s Ron Johnson, Sears’s Eddie Lampert, and others, get fired for poor management and running their companies into the ground. The CEOs in the education business make these kind of decisions and receive promotions and raises. Something is drastically wrong. We have spent more money on hospitality and catering in the school district budget over these years instead of repairing or replacing this outdated boiler system.

  • As a retired teacher who taught in Camden for years and a suburbanite who took a job in Camden instead of offers from suburb districts because I thought I’d be more helpful in Camden, I can affirm that this happens. Not only in the winter and there’s no heat in the building, but in the early start of school and in May and June when the old buildings are over 98 degrees and no AC is provided. I used to put at thermometer in my room so I knew what the temp was. The other problem was that if we did have heat ion the winter, the boiler in the building was so old that the rooms were sometimes over 100 degrees … Hotter than than it was in the summer.As teachers, we wished the parents would come in and just sit a few minutes in the classroom and then make complaints. This has gone on for years in Camden.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *