If we want to prepare our students for 21st century jobs, we need to invest in 21st century classrooms. But too many of our schools have fallen into disrepair, and students can’t learn in schools that are crumbling around them.
Last week, several Ohio schools were forced to close early, taking away valuable classroom time, due to excessive heat and a lack of adequate air conditioning and modern ventilation in many older buildings.
Last month, I visited one Ohio high school that is 90 years old, and has never been renovated. And unfortunately, we see the same issues in schools across Ohio.
We need to invest in updating our schools, so that we can not only be prepared in circumstances like heat waves, but also so that we can continue to prepare the next generation of leaders.
That’s why this summer, I introduced the School Building Improvement Act of 2017, which would provide local districts with an infusion of direct grants and school construction bonds over the next 10 years to update our schools and create an estimated 1.9 million jobs across the country.
All of the school repair, renovation, and construction would be completed with American-made materials, supporting our local manufacturing and construction industries.
Nearly a quarter of state and local infrastructure dollars are spent on our public schools. This investment would support good jobs, putting Ohioans to work rebuilding schools with American-made steel, iron and concrete.
During President Trump’s campaign, he promised a $1 trillion dollar investment in American infrastructure, built with American iron and steel and made by American workers. And since the beginning of the year, I’ve been clear that I’m eager to get to work with the President to make that investment a reality.
Rebuilding our schools has to be part of any plan. This is an investment that will pay off now, in the form of good constructions jobs, and in the future, as we better prepare the next generation of Ohioans for the workforce.
Sherrod Brown is a Democratic U.S. Senator from Ohio.