Healthy Schools

  • In the United States, more than 48 million students attend 94,000 public elementary, middle, and secondary schools each day (Hoffman 2003; Wirt et al. 2004), and an additional 5.3 million students attend 30,000 private schools (TAB ED 2005).
  • Children spend more time in schools than in any other environment except their home.
  • More than 4.7 million teachers and hundreds of thousands of administrators, janitors, food service workers, security guards, and other personnel staff these schools.
  • No other category of building can claim to house one in five Americans every day.

Schools are unique environments in many ways. In virtually no other settings do people spend extended periods of time in such close quarters. Few other buildings house such a wide variety of functions, from education to athletics to health care to food preparation and even to automobile repair and chemical processes.


But the most important feature of schools is that we send our children there to learn—to learn reading and writing and mathematics and sciences, to learn values and social skills, to prepare for their futures, to become all that they can be. It is no exaggeration to say that schools harbor our collective dreams for the future—they are the places where values are passed on, technical solutions originate, and the world of tomorrow is shaped. These high expectations stand in sharp contrast to the realities of many school environments. In a nation of gleaming office buildings, sumptuous gated communities, and luxurious shopping malls, many of our schools do not measure up.

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