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School Modernization

Funds for improving school conditions are critical to providing an effective, equitable education for students.

The United States spends more on public school facilities than any part of our infrastructure, except roads and highways.

Yet many of our 100,000 public school buildings are poorly equipped or in poor physical condition—so poor it undermines student learning. In response, some educators have resorted to crowdfunding for school improvements. But our educators should be working with students, not finding funds.

If we’re committed to helping every child fulfill his or her potential, then we have to provide safe and modern learning environments for every student. — Carolyn Smith Evans, Teacher, Salem-Keizer School District, Oregon

NEA fights for federal funding to ensure that every child, in every school district, has a school that is worthy of them

Unacceptable School Conditions

National studies provide hard evidence that too many of our schools are in disrepair. They've found that:

  • Half our public schools are more than 50 years old, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

  • 24 percent of schools in permanent buildings and 31 percent of schools in temporary buildings are in “fair” or “poor” condition, according to NCES.

  • More than half our public school facilities need significant repairs or replacement of multiple systems according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

  • Nearly half our public schools have poor air quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, due to cockroaches, rodents, dust mites, fungi, and respiratory irritants.

  • Many public schools, especially in rural areas, still do not have access to high-speed broadband sufficient for digital learning.

A Matter of Equity and Justice

The GAO report found that "high-poverty districts more commonly relied on state funding" than wealthier ones. This disparity means that our students who are least likely to have access to the conditions and tools needed for 21st century learning–our low-income and minority students–are most affected by state and federal cuts to school infrastructure funding.

When we support school modernization funding, we take a step toward fulfilling the promise of providing an equal chance, through an equal education, for our children.

Girl with megaphone in a group of people

Let’s invest in our future.

The safety and well-being of students and educators cannot be compromised as they return to in-person instruction. Congress should increase education funding to assist with reopening needs.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.