In Springfield, Mass., the Gerena Community Elementary School, made with all black cement and very few windows, sits under a major highway. Needless to say, the kids who go here suffer from high-level pollutant exposure. Asthma rates are off the charts and kids and adults alike experience daily coughing fits as they walk through the door. So why is this school still here? Why is it still a school at all? Well, this school happens to be in one of the lowest-income areas of the city, and there's just not enough money to make the necessary changes to protect the children, the teachers and the wonderful faculty who put themselves in danger every day to make this school run.
The community needs a long term solution, and fast. Active community members are discussing options such as building a charter school. This, however, will still require intensive funding. Other options are still being discussed.
While active participants work to solve the issue of failing health and potentially failing education system, it's important to recognize that this is an example of the terrible, and often unnoticed, tragedy of environmental injustice in America. So how can we help? How can we, as a society, work to improve these injustices that continuously plague America, where one area might suffer in the face of fiscal gain for another?
Photo: Springfield Institute