Air Condition The Damn Public Schools Already

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 11 2013 9:50 AM

Schools Should Have Air Conditioners  

94325600
Air conditioners in Bangkok. This technology could really take off.

Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Baltimore County will be closing its public schools early today due to the unseasonable heat. We're also seeing school closures widely in the midwest. And it really is hot. But all across the region things that aren't schools are staying open thanks to the miracle of climate control technology. The fact that we can't manage to get this done in our schools is laughably absurd.

Here in 2013 the unemployment rate is very high. It was very high in 2012. It was very high in 2011. It was very high in 2010. It was very high in 2009. And though only moderately high in 2008 it was clearly on an upward trajectory. At any time during this period having the federal government take advantage of low interest rates to borrow a bunch of money to hire a bunch of people to install air conditioners (and perhaps other appropriate insulation and energy efficiency measures) in public schools across the land should have been a nice easy win for the short-term labor market and the long-term education prospects of the country. Kids can't learn well in overheated rooms, and kids also can't learn well when schools aren't open. More broadly, there's evidence that school districts myopically underinvest in physical facilities as a general matter.

Advertisement

And of course appropriate weatherization of schools so that kids can be taught on hot days is a necessary first step to addressing the terrible toll summer vacation takes on poor kids and their families.

Basically every politician I'm familiar with—on the left, the center, or the right—likes to preach about the importance of education. And they should! It's really important. But almost nobody seems to take it seriously on the most basic level. Important public services need to be able to operate consistently.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?