March 18, 2011

2011 Healthy Schools Hero Dr. Dwight Peavey

Every year, to mark the anniversary of the March 18, 1937 Texas School Explosion, I salute a Healthy Schools Hero whose extraordinary responsibility and inspirational leadership is dedicated to eliminating explosives and other chemical hazards and unhealthy conditions in schools.  

The March 18 Healthy Schools Hero Award is an annual call to tell the story of the worst school disaster in American history as a case study and cautionary tale.  By example, each Hero is an inspiration to break the silence about school hazards and bring the Lessons of the 1937 Texas School Explosion to today’s schools.  

The 1937 story needs telling because the decision-making and false economies that led to the 1937 explosion are too common in schools today.  We have widespread school design, building and operations problems, warnings are unheeded, no one takes responsible for safety, and explosives and other hazardous materials and unhealthy conditions in labs, classrooms, closets and storerooms are routinely ignored.  

The 1937 explosion resulted in a law that required adding a warning odor to natural gas thus saving millions of lives all over the world.  However, other important recommendations of the 1937 Court of Inquiry have yet to be used so that schools are teaching safely and teaching safety to students in 21st century schools.