How many of us want to sit in the street in the dirt for the better part of the day? Has anyone who has actually seen a special on the school situation in Afghanistan hoped that our kids could spend their days learning while sitting in the dirt outside? While I'm sure our children love to play outside in the filth from time to time, none of them really want to sit there and try to learn or listen to a teacher all day. So why do so many schools continue to spend valuable dollars on facilities for hard, cold, dirty floors and then ask our kids to sit there?
The case could be made that VCT floors are cheap and that would be a fair argument. But that's where it stops. VCT floors that dominate the K-6 schools in the United States are cold, hard, expensive to maintain, cause airborne particulates to float everywhere and yes, they are dirty. Make no mistake, the fine people that are attempting to keep the schools and these hard floors clean for the kids are using every type of chemical possible to scrub, strip, wax, buff and spin shine these floor clean but they are almost always dirty because dirt just lives in schools.
Here is where this practice starts making even less sense. After we fund these floors and the massive operational budgets that go along with having to try and clean them for the next 20 years the teachers and parents take matters into their own hands and do the right thing by putting something more useful on the floor. They go and buy soft pieces of area rugs, colorful learning circles, and even times pieces of carpet for the kids to sit on so they don't have to be dirty and cold when they are sitting on the floor during the day. It's almost funny.
Perhaps we should ask our architects, designers, and administrators to talk to the teachers and students about what they want and how they would be most comfortable during their learning days. If that is impossible, just walk around a school and see what the have put in themselves to help the kids. Oh, and let us not forget all those tennis balls they have cut up and put on the bottom of the chairs to stop the noise pollution and scuffing that occurs to those VCT floors. Spending money on these types of floors for schools is not fiscally sustainable, hurts indoor air quality and does not provide a clean floor for our children. We can definitely do better and hopefully we will.