Sadly, underfunded school departments and classrooms have become so common that there’s a website for teachers to ask for donations to help buy supplies as standard as reading books.
But in some cities, the circumstances are even more dire.
Aaron Maybin, a 2009 first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills who is now a teacher at Matthew A. Henson Elementary in his native Baltimore as well as an artist and activist, is using his status to help bring attention to the unacceptable conditions at his school and others around the city.
The 29-year old posted a video to his Twitter account on Wednesday of him talking to his young students; they look to be no more than 8- or 9-years old, and you can see Maybin and a couple of the students wearing winter coats indoors.
The caption reads, “This.Is.Unacceptable.”
“What has the day been like for you today?,” Maybin asks the children.
“Cold!,” they reply, with one saying, “Very, very, very, very, very cold.”
He told BaltimoreBrew.com that it was about 40 degrees in his classroom.
“How would your kids concentrate if you sent them to school in a refrigerator for eight hours? With failing lighting. Two classes in one room?” he said. “We tried our best as educators. They tried their best as scholars. But they are dealing with a lot already. And now they are supposed to learn in the dark and in the cold.”
Almost as bad, Maybin said roughly half the school has been without electricity since students returned from the holiday break on Tuesday.
“I’m told it was due to nobody being there during the holidays to make sure the heat stayed on and pipes didn’t freeze,” Maybin said.
Perhaps in part because Maybin and other teachers speaking out means this unacceptable situation has gotten national attention, the school department closed schools on Thursday.
Maybin tweeted that with no school, he was spending the day collecting items like winter coats for students in need; he and other teachers have also started a GoFundMe to buy space heaters for classrooms and winter gear for students.
Maybin, teachers and parents are understandably upset about the conditions; the Baltimore City Schools Twitter feed has been posting updates on facility conditions, and there are dozens of responses.
“The fact that everyone is just looking at the video [Wednesday] and getting outraged about the situation – but not when it comes time to hold our school system and politicians accountable on that same issue – outrages me,” he told Baltimore Brew. “My schools have all suffered from severe lack of resources and basic necessities for education.”
Maybin tweeted that he’s “angry at a lot of people” but now is not the time to point fingers. “While we sit back and blame others OUR kids are freezing NOW. Someone has to fight for them.”