Saturday, May 25, 2019

City AC Regs Are Idiotic and Inhumane

I'm in my fourth decade of teaching for NYC, and the more things change, the more they remain the same. It seems like yesterday we were using coal furnaces for heat, but maybe ten years ago we gave that up. Given that, we ought to continue this trend of acting like it's 2019.

In 2019, air-conditioning is ubiquitous. If you haven't got it in your house, you can buy a room AC and cool a room for less than a hundred bucks. I don't know what percentage of city kids have AC at home, but I'd wager it's pretty high. Kids who aren't accustomed to miserable sweltering conditions ought not to learn about them at school. In fact, no kids ought to equate sufferng with education. Yet the city's AC regulations look like something from the 1960s (if not the 1860s).

During the 2019 official air-conditioning season, which runs from Wednesday, May 29, to Tuesday, Sept. 24, school room temperatures should be no lower than 78 degrees. There is no regulation mandating an upper temperature limit, only comfort guidelines. 

Seriously? Why is the season regulated by date rather than temperature? Do they have psychics at Tweed who can predict the weather? Meteorologists can't yet do that accurately. Also, 78 seems a little high. If I have control over an air-conditioner, I usually set it to 70. In fact, I frequently reset the room AC when I'm teaching. For some reason, no one seems to know how thermostats work. I walk in mornings and find rooms freezing with AC set to 60 or lower, with desks covered with condensation. People think if they make the temp lower it will cool faster.

The city thinks that 78 should be the lowest temperature, and that no matter how high it gets, things are fine. I'm gonna go on record doubting that Tweed uses those temperature regulations in their own building, where the great thinkers "work." I'll go further and say if those regulations aren't good enough for Tweed, and if they aren't good enough for the Mayor, they aren't good enough for my students either. In fact Mayor Bloomberg rigged room air-conditioners in his SUV to keep his royal ass sufficiently cool in the summer. It's disgraceful that, while mayors so carefully take care of themselves, a million city kids should suffer from a ridiculous policy that subjects them to such an inferior standard.

My school is pretty good with AC. Most of our rooms have it. However, you never know when a unit will fail. The south side of our building can get excruciatingly hot. One day a few weeks ago, even though the outside temp wasn't so bad, a student passed out and the teacher had to call 911. This was probably because (and you may not believe this if you aren't a city teacher) the heat was on.

Here in Fun City, custodians get X dollars for heating, and if they fail to use X dollars, I hear they get less money the following year. Whether or not that's true, I can't count the times I've discovered heat on when it ought not to be. Custodians are kind of independent. Principals do not supervise them.

My school has been responsive when I file health and safety complaints, from the principal to the custodian. I don't think I've ever had to take a health and safety grievance beyond step one. As chapter leader I've worked with two principals, both of whom ruled grievances in our favor and worked to make conditions better. Our custodians too have worked to fix these things quickly.

I hear NYSUT has passed a resolution advocating for AC in all schools. Hopefully they'll lobby for a law that will overrule the DOE's ridiculous policy. In 2019, students shouldn't be sitting in unbearably hot classrooms.
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