NAACP Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Repair and Rebuild Public Schools
NAACP Urges Swift Passage of Legislation to Repair and Rebuild Public Schools in Low-Income Communities while Creating Living Wage Jobs
While the average U.S. public school building is 40 years in age, most experts agree that a large percentage of school buildings in low income, urban communities are decidedly older. Surveys have indicated that many of our nation’s school districts are facing cots they can’t afford for new construction, repair, renovation, modernization and deferred maintenance needs. Conservative estimates suggest that our nation has a school maintenance and repair backlog totaling $270 billion. Problems include dysfunctional HV/AC systems; broken plumbing, roofs, windows, and doors; fire code and other safety issues; interior and exterior painting needs; sidewalks and parking lots in desperate need of repaving; electrical and lighting upgrades; locker and boiler replacements; bus-depot repairs; masonry repairs; security systems; and outdated technology. Students already encounter numerous distractions throughout the school day without having to work around such issues as cold classrooms in the winter and/or asbestos falling from the ceilings. School districts across the country have been delaying such school improvements for years, even as student enrollment levels have continued to raise, a problem exacerbated during this recession.
At the same time, our national unemployment – which remains above 9% -- rate is unacceptably, stubbornly high. The unemployment rate among African Americans is roughly double the national rate, nearing 17%. Approximately 25 million Americans are currently unemployed or underemployed.
To help address these two major problems, Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT) have introduced the Fix America’s Schools Today Act, or the FAST Act, S. 1597/H.R. 2948. The FAST Act, which was also a component of President Obama’s comprehensive jobs proposal, would immediately put people back to work by investing $25 billion into deferred maintenance and repair of our nation’s public K-12 schools. The $25 billion investment in public school infrastructure will modernize at least 35,000 public elementary and high schools. An additional $5 billion would be invested in renovating and modernizing facilities at our community colleges, the first step in providing a pathway to higher education for millions of Americans. Such a national project would create jobs for construction workers and others affected by the jobs crisis making improvements to the health and safety of our schools with positive ripple effects throughout the U.S. economy. It is estimated that every $1 billion invested in school construction would create up to 10,000 jobs.
THE NAACP STRONGLY SUPPORTS S. 1597/H.R. 2948, THE FAST ACT AND ENCOURAGES EVERY MEMBER OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE TO WORK TOWARDS ITS IMMEDIATE ENACTMENT.