Parade Magazine Special Report: Rebuilding America’s Schools
Barry Yeoman, August 12, 2012
The average public school in this country is more than 40 years old—and showing its age. Roofs leak, walls are ridden with termites and lead paint, and rooms are chronically overcrowded. PARADE looks at two communities that remade their schools—and the lessons they can teach all of us.
Just a few years ago, California’s Santa Ana High School looked like it had long outlived its art deco grandeur. The 1935 building was dilapidated, overcrowded, and scarred with graffiti. Roofs leaked. Sewage backed up in pipes. Some buildings had no mechanical ventilation. The wiring was in “various levels of dysfunction,” says assistant superintendent Joe Dixon. “Computers would go down. Lighting would go down. In the few places where we had air-conditioning, that would go down.” In one building, makeshift classroom partitions forced teachers to shout over one another’s lessons. Between the noise and the heat, “it was hard to focus on my work,” says Elvis Carranza, 16, an incoming senior at Santa Ana. “It made me not want to go to school at all.” What’s more, 34 portable buildings (i.e., trailers) had turned parts of the campus into a labyrinth—surrounded by chain-link fencing that, in Dixon’s words, “made it look like if you could get in, you were never going to get out.” Read more…