Just the facts
Mahalo for the front page report by Michael Brestovansky “TMT: Separating fact from myth” (WHT, Aug. 18).
There has been no shortage of emotion in the events and coverage of the situation. What seems to be in short supply, however, is this sort of objective, factual journalism. I have no doubt West Hawaii Today (and Hawaii Tribune-Herald) will hear loud criticism for what some will perceive as coverage critical of the anti-TMT position, but I believe you are fulfilling a vital role of publicly airing facts that should be considered in forming opinions, no matter which side readers are on.
Heat hampering our achievement
The hours after lunch in my classroom are often the quietest hours of the day. My students are wilting in their seats, fanning themselves, and drinking water to keep hydrated. Many complain of headaches, or dizziness. A couple have already been sent to the office — earlier, by 10:30, when my classroom temperature reached 85 degrees. Welcome to teaching in Kona.
Before you start thinking, “Oh no, another teacher complaining about working conditions,” wait and think for a moment when you last sat in an elementary room. What were your classroom conditions? Were they conducive to a good learning environment? Did the heat and humidity make your head spin, and make you sleepy every afternoon? It saddens and angers me to start yet another school year, here in West Hawaii, with no air conditioning and little heat abatement, except for a few fans.
Students need air to learn!
I’m especially distraught when I hear how our test scores are again compared to those in other, more affluent schools, who have climate-controlled (air conditioned) classrooms. How can this be fair? Our students are at a great disadvantage if they do not have cool/comfortable classrooms where they can learn. Sadly, many of our smaller schools are struggling to make ends meet —many are shutting libraries to save money, and asking parents to contribute more each year. They don’t have the funding to retrofit buildings with air conditioning, much less pay for a full staff at their sites. We can do better.
If we truly value our keiki and want the best learning conditions for them, we need to encourage our friends and ohana to demand air conditioning in all our classrooms. Anything less is unacceptable. Yes, there is a so-called “priority list” for adding AC to schools, but for much of West Hawaii, it will be years before we see such improvement.
Perhaps if parents in those important “testing grades” withheld their students (“opt out” from testing), maybe the state will listen to our needs for air conditioning? Parents truly have power. We need to work together to fix this situation. Our kids deserve a cool, comfortable learning environment. I urge parents to contact their school administrators and ask about their school plan for air conditioning.
“Teacher Toni” Reynolds