Rodents in the cafeteria. Crumbling ceilings. Mold growing in the classroom. Extreme temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. Toxic air quality from poor indoor air ventilation. Concerns about asbestos, lead and other toxins in the walls and pipes. Unfortunately, these are common problems right here in our New Jersey schools.

The Healthy Schools Now coalition is committed to addressing these conditions and ensuring healthy school environments for all students. We believe that access to a healthy and safe school environment is essential for receiving a thorough and efficient education. We have fought to make that vision a reality by organizing and advocating for policy changes, demanding improvements for school facilities and issuing recommendations about school facility policies, including advocating for increased bonding for the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

Recently, new voices have caused us to think about broadening our mission.

Students expressed fear that what happened in Texas, Florida, and other schools around the country, could happen in their schools. They talked about how easy it was to get into a school. They highlighted how simple it would be to bring a gun into a classroom.

Read the full opinion-editorial on from the Star-Ledger by Jerell Blakeley, WEC Campaign Organizer for Healthy Schools Now and Justis Brown a junior at International High School in Paterson and a graduate of the Healthy Schools Now Student Leadership Academy.