A/C in city schools could help cool summer violence

Written By Michael Sneed Posted: 04/23/2014, 08:08pm

Memo to detractors giving Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to provide air conditioning for every Chicago Public School classroom the cold shoulder. 

Ya gotta be kidding!

It’s too expensive, you say? 

It’s too costly to fully air-condition the 206 city school buildings that don’t have it?

What price does one put on the life of a child when hot weather fuels violence?

What price is too high to for preventing a child from getting killed? 

Here’s a cold, hard fact: In addition to the recent uptick in shooting deaths driving Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy ballistic — 42,000 kids attend CPS summer school and other programs each summer, often a safer alternative to the street.

“There are more people out on the street in the summer, which can lead to more opportunities for confrontations or violence,” McCarthy told Sneed.

“Summer programming in a cool environment provides young people with positive ways to focus their energy, and is an important part of preventing violence and protecting public safety,” he said.

The list of programs range from high school credit recovery and acceleration to Step Up to Kindergarten programs.

“The mayor’s belief is that he will take whatever political heat so students and teachers are cool on the warm days,” a mayoral source said.

“Whether it’s summer school, a job, or an activity program, keeping kids active, learning and off the streets in a cool, safe, and productive place over the summer will ensure they have a great, safe summer when the temperature starts to rise,” the source said.

Sneed is told that 35 CPS principals have signed on to a letter thanking Emanuel for prioritizing the health of teachers and students.

“At the beginning and end of each school year, temperatures of over 100 degrees have been registered inside our classrooms, which naturally bring effective teaching and learning to a halt,” the letter reads. “Until now, our choices have been either to suffer with the heat or attempt fundraising drives within our communities to fund partial air conditioning for our classrooms.”

Shockingly, the debate over air conditioning the city’s school began in 1962, when the Chicago School Board gave a hot foot to cool schools.

Then-Schools Supt. Benjamin C. Willis, who supported the plan, predicted that most of the schools would be air-conditioned in five years.

If Emanuel has his way, Willis’ prediction may finally come true.



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