Climate change could spell disaster for schools

Climate change threatens education

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The Future. As natural calamities (think record heat, wildfires, and flooding) occur more often in the US, school districts are failing to weather the storms due to a lack of financial and bureaucratic support. If they want to avoid more disruptions to the academic year, states might have to rethink how they run their schools to better prepare for climate change.

Feeling the heat
Many schools around the country aren’t equipped to handle climate change because “not enough money is being invested to make the necessary adjustments,” according to Jonathan T. Overpeck, Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

  • Heat waves are beginning earlier and lasting longer, forcing schools, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, to close early due to inadequate air conditioning.
  • Many districts can’t afford private insurance, so they have to rely on grants from FEMA or the Department of Education following natural disasters, which can slow the recovery process.
  • Even districts with insurance money sometimes don’t have enough to cover all the costs of rebuilding.
  • What makes matters worse is many families often relocate after a natural disaster, which slashes district funding if the trend continues.

Staying vigilant
The sooner all state leaders admit there’s a climate problem, the sooner US school districts can properly shelter their students and teachers from the inevitable storm.

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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