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Boston Public School Teacher Wants City to Turn Off AC for Administrators

Boston Public School Teacher Wants City To Turn Off AC For Administrators

Marty Walsh
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh
Bill Sikes/AP
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Boston Public School Teacher Wants City to Turn Off AC for Administrators

Students in Boston had their first day of classes today, and things got off to a rather sweltering start, with many Boston public schools not having air conditioning. That has raised the hackles of at least one teacher in the district. Michael Maguire teaches Latin at Boston Latin Academy in Dorchester. McGuire is posing a challenge to Mayor Marty Walsh to turn off the air conditioning in administrative offices throughout the city until all of the city's schools have air conditioning installed. Maguire spoke with WGBH's All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard about his proposal. The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Barbara Howard: When did you throw down the gauntlet when it comes to air conditioning?

Michael Maguire: Well, I first sent out my first tweet or my challenge at the end the last school year when the heat started pouring in, in June. It was really hot in the classrooms, and I bought a portable digital thermometer to really track the temperatures.

Howard: Did you hear back from the mayor?

Maguire: No, of course not.

Howard: Do any of the Boston Public Schools have air conditioning?

Maguire: There are some that do. There are some schools that do summer school programs. I don't know how many total in the system. There are schools in the system, and I think they're the ones that have been built since the 1970s and onward. But since the majority of the schools were built in the World War II era or earlier, there's no air conditioning in the vast majority of buildings.

Howard: I understand you've been monitoring the temperatures in your classroom. What was it like today?

Maguire: Today it was sweltering and oppressive. It got over 91 degrees — 91.6 degrees I think — and with a humidity level of over 60 percent.

Howard: Well, it's the kids first day back. Were they able to function?

Maguire: A little bit. They could follow basic directions, they could get along, but there wasn't much in the way of teaching and learning. It was more just surviving the heat and getting to know each other.

Howard: How about the teachers? You know, you have to do your jobs in this heat. And you're affiliated with the Boston Teachers Union. So is this a labor issue in your mind?

Maguire: I don't view it as such. I really view it as a parent — I have two children in the system. And I just see how hot the kids are when I pick up my own children, and how hot the other teachers are, and myself, and my colleagues. Yes, it's a working condition thing and it should be addressed. Teacher union or not, this is an issue that should be addressed.

Howard: Is it as important to have air conditioning as it is to have heat?

Maguire: I would say definitely. The heat comes in sooner, it stays with us longer, but even if it didn't, even if it was just for May, June and September, that's three months. People will say students don't go to school in the summer. Well, that may be true for a few months, we are still in there for at least 10 weeks out of the year where it is quite warm and everyone else has air conditioning. My question is, why not the students?

Howard: Thanks for joining us, Mr. Maguire.

Maguire: Thank you very much.

Howard: That's Michael Maguire, a Latin teacher at Boston Latin Academy in Dorchester. He's been speaking about the heat that teachers and students have been dealing with in the city's schools, which by and large do not have air conditioning. Maguire wants Mayor Marty Walsh to turn off air conditioning in the city's administrative offices until the schools are equipped with air conditioning. We’ve reached out to Mayor Walsh's office for comment, but have not yet received a response. This is WGBH’s All Things Considered.

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