Several badly designed teacher’s pay proposals now before the N.C. Legislature claim they will pay teachers more if they do their jobs well.
They will not.
The proposed new laws would have educators’ pay raised only if their student’s learning improves year-after-year on state-wide tests.
This is profoundly unfair to teachers in older school buildings.
Learning is impacted by many things besides the teachers, one of the most powerful of which is the quality of air the students breathe. If the classroom air is not rich in oxygen and has high pollution, learning is reduced by one or two letter grades.
Teachers in older schools: say goodbye to your promised pay raise.
The EPA reports that half of all classrooms in America have poor indoor air quality.  Our 4 years of classroom surveys confirm this.
If you are an educator working in an old-and-not-updated school building, there is no way your student’s learning can keep up with the students in a new school building down the street.
These soon-to-be-voted-on state rules are like football referees mandating UNC players to play Duke while the UNC players are required to wear 10-pound ankle weights. Fans would be outraged.
In fact, it is worse than that, because the football players lose a game. The kids lose their future.
If you follow our efforts, you know that when we started The Pollution Detectives back in 2017. Our efforts were based on the notion that there were new, accurate, and easy-to-use instruments available that could be used by citizens to “make invisible pollution visible”. We tested a range of them and set up a free lending library to empower pollution detection.
We also discovered that one-in-five Americans either works in or attends, a public or private K-12 school – 66,000,000 children and their guardians. And from a ‘leverage’ point of view, this population comes with lots of state and national communications channels we could use to share our findings. So we launched our effort in this area.
We started by gathering together equipment to test the quality of the air inside the schools, survey for lead in the drinking water, and place meters to look for radon gas. Cooperative school districts worked with us through the process and helped us to refine the methodology.
We have learned that:
about half of all schools have issues with indoor air quality that lowers student learning by at least one letter grade and triggers asthma.
only a few states require that schools be inspected for lead in the drinking water.
most inspections for radon gas are legally triggered when a building is sold – and since schools are rarely sold, they are not inspected for radon – the second leading cause of lung cancer in America.
Schools are one of the major sources of leaking refrigerant gasses – which are between 1,000 and 7,000 times more climate-changing than CO2.