Talking Truth to Power

December 18, 2019

On December 5, MassCOSH’s Teens Lead @ Work (TL@W) took part in a Boston Public Schools Youth Community meeting with the City’s new Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. The meeting was organized by motivated and engaged students of the school system who are part of the Boston Student Advisory Council.

With approximately 100 youth in attendance, the students let policy makers know the priorities they would like to see addressed in Boston Public Schools. Like most living in Boston, they want to see schools take action on transportation, ensuring students safe, reliable and affordable ways to get to and from school, work and extra-curriculars. Students also addressed the need for school safety and wellness and issues around personal enrichment and extra-curriculars.
Upset that healthy school buildings were not mentioned as one of the priority themes for schools, our peer leaders stood up and demanded action around healthy school buildings. Increasingly hot classrooms experiencing unhealthy levels of heat can exacerbate asthma in students and staff and create conditions impossible to learn in. Speaking up at the event was TL@W’s latest action to make the case that heat should be treated as seriously as snow, advocating that schools explore options for “no test days” or even early dismissal when classroom heat index temperature rises above 85 degrees. The teens also demanded air conditioning in all school buildings as part of the City’s plan to modernize school buildings.