Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bigger than Bridges: The Infrastructure Bill is About Kids | Schott Foundation for Public Education

Bigger than Bridges: The Infrastructure Bill is About Kids | Schott Foundation for Public Education
Bigger than Bridges: The Infrastructure Bill is About Kids

For all the pressing education matters facing students, parents, and educators, the proposed American Jobs Plan (often referred to as “the infrastructure bill”) can at first glance appear to be unimportant: what does highway and bridge construction have to do with the classroom? But if the contents of the proposed bill are carried out, it would be one of the most transformative education bills in a generation. Let’s walk through some of the details to learn how. 

Constructing a Loving Schoolhouse 

The clearest way that the American Jobs Plan (AJP) would improve the lives of children is in the school itself. While they sat empty for much of the past year, the conditions of public schools remain reflections of society around them: students in wealthier areas will be greeted by top-of-the-line buildings, extensive science labs and the latest technology, while BIPOC and low-income students are much more likely to return to schools with inadequate heating and cooling, lead pipes, and air quality issues. 

It’s for good reason that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our school infrastructure a “D+.” Decades of disinvestment and budget crises created by property tax dependency have added up to billions of dollars in needed school repairs, improvements, and expansions. The White House released infrastructure fact sheets on all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, detailing the gap in funding for necessary school infrastructure work: for example, the gap in Massachusetts is $1.39 billion, New York’s is $2.91 billion, and California’s is $3.22 billion. 

This is a gap that we can and must close. The AJP would allocate $100 billion to modernize existing public schools and construct new ones, covering everything from air quality to better school meals, classrooms to technology labs. Low-income and majority-BIPOC communities would significantly benefit from that investment. And 100% of lead drinking water pipes in the country, be they in schools or neighborhoods, would be replaced thanks to a $45 billion investment in plumbing replacement. 

Constructing a Loving City 

For all the benefits that school improvement will bring, the factors that impact a child’s future extend far beyond the schoolhouse. As Schott has detailed since 2018 with our Loving Cities Index, we found twenty-five key indicators in four domains that determine whether children and their families have the supports they need to thrive and succeed. In the twenty cities we studied, not one offered more than 55% of those necessary supports. The AJP would directly improve at least seven CONTINUE READING: Bigger than Bridges: The Infrastructure Bill is About Kids | Schott Foundation for Public Education

The guilty verdict in the Chauvin trial is a step forward in police accountability and a hopeful sign of progress toward dignity and humanity for all Americans. We give our thanks to the millions of young people, parents and activists who took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd – building a movement and making this verdict possible. 

As we move beyond this moment, we must support these grassroots organizations and changemakers who have spearheaded our country’s reckoning with racism, violence and oppression. We must alter our communities’ and nation’s course to create loving systems and cities in which people of color can live in safety and thrive. This means a commitment to resources and transformative change so that our communities are the vibrant and loving places they should be – for all of their residents.

We must bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.