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Politics // The Right Price
Larry Price

Air Conditioning: Educational Issue?

Mark the date on your calendar: Sept 26, 2013, a group of students and teachers are going to rally at the state Capitol.

That by itself would be a worthy educational adventure, but the purpose of this rally is to press legislators and government officials to do something about the stifling temperatures in some of our public classrooms.

If you’re wondering, the Department of Education has 12 public schools that are fully air-conditioned on its 255 campuses. A study was done in 2007 that estimated the cost of air conditioning in all schools at $1 billion.

Mind you, that estimate was done in 2007. And it’s not just a matter of installing an air-conditioning unit. It also would require upgrading many of the electrical systems to handle the additional load, and then the extra load would drive up the schools’ electric bills.

To say it’s a difficult situation is putting it mildly, but a rally is not going to do it – for a couple of reasons.

First, can you remember if your classroom was air conditioned? Probably not, because in the 1950s and ’60s, air conditioning wasn’t related to learning. Sure, there were fewer schools, but the ones that were being built used the trade winds to keep the environment stable. Surely anyone planning a building – any kind of building – in the Ewa plains realized in the summer months the temperatures would require some kind of cooling mechanism. Kapolei High School is a classic educational building – it has everything, even a few elevators here and there.

How come so many schools were left to cool themselves? If you answered money, you are correct.

Another factor is the elected legislator who represents the district. Some legislators have clout. Others, who have never succeeded in getting a bill passed into law, don’t.

Don’t get me wrong. I think rallying at the Capitol is a great idea for the students and teachers. It’s a good lesson in how government works. I also agree with letter campaigns.

What I don’t like is the idea is that you can’t get a good education in a room without air conditioning. That’s a poor excuse. There is overwhelming evidence that a lot of citizens went to schools without air conditioning and they turned out just fine. This kind of thinking can do only one thing: make our youngsters soft around the edges and teach them to make excuses for not learning.

If you really want to have air conditioning budgeted, turn off all the air-conditioning units at the state Capitol, the state Department of Education and the Judiciary, and before you know it, from somewhere money will be made available for students.

Finally, there are a lot of people in business and the labor force who have to sweat for their wages. They don’t stop working and start complaining, they just live with it.

No one ever drowned in sweat. Learn to live with it.

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