The Toxic Water in Flint and Toxic Schools in Detroit Need More News Coverage

President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan on Saturday due to tests that found elevated levels of lead in their water and in the blood of some children. Even as that catastrophic failure struggles to gain major traction in the national media, another health disaster in Flint has been largely ignored. Children attending Detroit Public Schools are entering toxic environments everyday thanks to the black mold, fecal matter, and dead rodents within their schools. The fact that this is happening in a major United States city is already shocking. But, the dearth of concern from citizens and new outlets is heart-wrenching.

To be honest, I wish that I had the ability to fully convey the horrors present in Detroit Public Schools. But sometimes, pictures do a better job than I ever could. The video below chronicles some of the outlandish conditions at Spain Elementary School in Detroit.

And in a lot of ways, the images in that video are tame compared to some Detroit school conditions. I have included a sampling of the disrepair that has been chronicled on the @teachDetroit Twitter page below. Be warned, the images are graphic:

My heart breaks over this. And in the year 2016, I’m flabbergasted that this is reality. Even worse, these images can’t begin to touch on the heating and cooling issues classrooms face. Students have to wear their coats in class during the winter, and in the summer, the heat is sweltering.

Students, teachers, nor any faculty member should ever be subjected to these conditions. Facilities like these should be shut down. They should be condemned. And the fact that they are faced with these realities is proof of communities and people that are literally uncared for. Problems like these don’t crop up overnight. They are a result of years of neglect.

Images like these point to a bigger issue as well. Detroit doesn’t have a monopoly on underfunded and dilapidated schooling facilities. I’m sure this is not an isolated issue. This is a nationwide problem, and until infrastructure and education become real top priorities for elected officials, the neglect will continue.

And as Democrats and Republicans debate in the run up to the next presidential election, I can’t help but feel like politicians have lost sight of humanity. There has been much discussion about if we need to “put boots on the ground” in areas across the world, I’d like to see toilet seats in bathrooms in Detroit. Or feces off of floors.

You can look at things on the aggregate all you like, but if there are children attending a school in your country that has mushrooms growing out of a wall, you need to change your scope. If classroom floors better resemble streets and speed bumps, you are not fulfilling your job’s requirements. If students and faculty are greeted with black mold on a daily basis, there is a massive failure in the system.

Children deserve better. And, the broken system needs to be held accountable.

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.