In the U.S., 14 million kids attend deteriorating public schools. Now, we're not talking about a leaky faucet here, or a clogged toilet there.
Inside these crumbling schools, broken windows go without repair, ceiling tiles fall as children walk through the hallway, leaky roofs cause it to rain inside classrooms, and walls grow mold, creating health and safety concerns.
To make matters worse, the conditions of our public schools interfere with instruction.
According to the Department of Education, 43 percent of schools surveyed said the conditions at their facilities increased illness, lowered achievement, and made it more difficult for instructors to teach their daily lessons.
This alarming video taken inside a Reading, Pennsylvania, school shows just how bad it can get.
A new U.K. study reiterates the Department of Education's findings. In fact, according to the researchers behind the study at the University of Salford and the architectural firm Nightingale Associates, the design of a school building can affect students' academic progress by as much as 25 percent over the course of one year.
The study examined 751 students in 34 classrooms in seven schools during the 2011-2012 school year. Classroom orientation, natural light and noise, and temperature and air quality were taken into account.
Professor Peter Barrett, of the School of the Built Environment at University of Salford, said in a statement:
It has long been known that various aspects of the built environment impact on people in buildings, but this is the first time a holistic assessment has been made that successfully links the overall impact directly to learning rates in schools. The impact identified is in fact greater than we imagined and the Salford team is looking forward to building on these clear results.
While design is important, basic health and safety measures are imperative. Of the 80,000 public schools in the U.S., at least two-thirds have unhealthy environmental conditions.
If you want to help, visit DonorsChoose and give to a teacher's focused on improving his or her classroom environment.
Jenny is the Education Editor at TakePart. She has been writing for TakePart since 2009 and previously worked in film and television development. She has taught English in Vietnam and tutors homeless children in Los Angeles. Email Jenny | @jennyinglee | TakePart.com