Heat Exacerbates Educational Divide, Park Finds

Assistant Professor of Public Policy Jisung Park spoke to the Guardian about his research on the relationship between heat and student learning. Park’s studies have shown that students learn less when there are more hot school days, yet many American classrooms lack air conditioning, especially in neighborhoods of color. In one study, Park found that in years with more hot school days, students tend to do worse on state standardized exams. He also found that, on hot school days, Black and Hispanic students lost the most learning while white students were able to mitigate nearly all of the effects. In another study, Park found that central air conditioning mitigates the effects of heat by about 73%. “It’s not that we don’t understand atmospheric effects or don’t have technology to cool a room,” Park said. “So why is it that the plurality of U.S. classrooms don’t appear to have working air conditioning?”

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