Letters to the Editor: I started teaching at LAUSD in 1970. Unshaded playgrounds aren’t a new problem

Students on unshaded pavement prepare to return to class after a morning recess at Lockwood Elementary School in L.A.
Students on unshaded pavement prepare to return to class after a morning recess at Lockwood Elementary School in Los Angeles on Aug. 31.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: The need for green space on playgrounds in the Los Angeles Unified School District is, unfortunately, an old story. (“Playground asphalt sizzles to 145 degrees in extreme heat waves. Parents demand school shade,” Sept. 1)

I began my teaching career in 1970 at Parmelee Avenue Elementary in South L.A. In 1971 I took a photography class that required a final project combining photos and music. I photographed the playground at Parmelee, which was nothing but asphalt.

Then, I visited an elementary school in Palos Verdes; its play area was lush and grassy. I juxtaposed the photos of the two playgrounds, accompanied by the Cat Stevens song “Where Do the Children Play?”


It’s sad to know that the answer hasn’t changed.

Juliane McAdam, Los Osos, Calif.


To the editor: Groups like Trees for a Green LA and Tree People would be great resources for schools with hot, unshaded, asphalt playgrounds. But you’d think schools would know of these sources of free trees.

I remember shade from native live oaks in my school yard. Schools should plant large shade trees for kids.

Bonnie Mathews Porter, Los Angeles


To the editor: Schools should install solar panels over these hot asphalt playgrounds to provide shade. Then they won’t need scarce water for new landscaping, and they can have more solar power to relieve climate change and reduce utility bills.

Diane Soini, Santa Barbara



To the editor: Why don’t we simply start school a few weeks later?

Kelly Allison, La Crescenta


To the editor: When it’s more than 100 degrees outside and the Los Angeles Unified School District has a backlog of broken air conditioners, and its playgrounds are hot enough to fry an egg, we’re in deep trouble.

It is important to know, however, that we are not powerless in the face of extreme heat. There are solutions.

We can create shade by planting more trees. We can plant grass and keep it green with recycled water instead of paving our playgrounds with hot asphalt. We can deploy more cool roofs and cool pavements and place shade structures over busy intersections.

Unfortunately, the state Legislature, in the session that just concluded, failed to adequately fund cooling solutions.

The Times’ editorial got it right. The Legislature’s feckless response is cause for shame.


Enrique Huerta, Los Angeles

The writer is legislative director for the group Climate Resolve.