TL@W Testifies at City Hall

October 25, 2021

With most of Boston’s public schools built before World War II, 130 buildings are increasingly unable to abate the heat that comes with ever-warming springs and summers. The issue has become a major campaign for MassCOSH’s Teens Lead @ Work program and these young people are not hesitating to tell city leaders about their concerns. 

On September 30, MassCOSH joined representatives from Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Education Justice Alliance for a hearing led by Councilor-at-Large and chair of Boston City Council’s Committee on Education Annissa Essaibi. Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Michael Flaherty, Julia Mejia, and Michelle Wu also were in attendance for the virtual hearing. 

TL@W Peer Leader Maddie Taylor, an 11th-grader at Boston Latin School spoke at the hearing to let policy leaders know that hot school buildings are creating impossible learning conditions that unjustly affect minority communities who often live and learn in “urban heat islands.”  Taylor detailed how she had to take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests during a brutal June heatwave this past summer and rushed through the important, high-stakes test so she could leave the hot and humid dining hall as soon as she could.  

Taylor’s testimony was complemented by that of MassCOSH Youth Programs Director Joe Tache who stressed that current building conditions can exacerbate asthma in staff and students with the disease. MassCOSH Executive Director Jodi Sugerman-Brozan also spoke to encourage policy leaders to follow OSHA’s new special enforcement initiatives around heat-related hazards when schools become hotter than 85 degrees, noting that OSHA finds working conditions in such heat hazardous.