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Well designed schools as psychologically and physically secure havens for children
Detail: Are school buildings ready for the new school year? Public schools face this question annually. Physically dysfunctional school buildings are ultimately attributable to spending priorities and misguided policies that are unwilling to invest in public infrastructure, of which schools are a vital component.

Communities that depend on property taxes have especially vulnerable budgets for education as tax revenue can decrease significantly when real estate values fall. This forces budget cuts that result in deferred school construction and maintenance. The quality of a school system is seriously compromised when years elapse without essential work. Costs escalate as years elapse making it difficult to restore quality.

Roger K. Lewis, the author of this article and a practicing architect and a professor emeritus of architecture at the University of Maryland explores the consequences of lack of money for schools. He asks, “So what if school buildings don't meet state-of-the-art teaching standards, need some paint, have a few toilets that don't flush properly or are always a bit too cool or too hot? After all, a good teacher can teach motivated students under a tree or inside a tent.” He then turns the question around asking, “Shouldn't schools, where America's future generations are being educated, be well-designed, highly regarded works of civic architecture? Shouldn't a school occupied by children for hundreds of days annually, and also serving as a focus and resource for a community throughout the year, be beautiful as well as clean, comfortable and safe?”

Lewis then proceeds to explain the values of good schools as being havens for kids, as well as effective learning environments within cities, and for students whose homes and neighborhoods are less than stable, a well-built, attractive school may become a psychologically and physically secure haven. A beautiful school can motivate students to learn, just as it also can foster positive behavior. Conversely, if schools look and feel like physical extensions of dysfunctional homes and neighborhoods, students have little motivation to spend time. And when they do spend time in a structure in poor condition, they are more likely to engage in disrespectful, destructive behavior.
Source: Based on a story by Roger K. Lewis titled “Restoring Schools to the Havens They Should Be” in The Washington Post, August 30, 2008 Saturday
Date: September 16 2008