Tornadoes, Trailers, and School Houses

C. Kenneth Tanner


In the Spring of 1998 a tornado swept down on this North Georgia community and devastated several trailers used as "temporary" classrooms at a public school. There are many sensitive issues regarding the use of "trailers" as classrooms. These issues are political, social, cultural, and economic. Safety as an issue is often secondary to the economic argument. Quality of the learning environment is altogether another policy argument.

One fact uncovered in a recent tour of schools is that "trailers,"although sold to taxpayers as temporary solutions, have become permanent objects at most schools where they have been installed. Are these substitute schools really educationally and economically sound?

The School Design and Planning Laboratory (SDPL) questions the use of "trailers" for instructional purposes. We are willing to work with school systems in planning and designing alternative solutions to this growing problem.

The images shown here deal with "safety of students." SDPL welcomes research ideas pertaining to the appropriateness of "trailers" as substitute school houses. SDPL also welcomes research funds (Private or Public) to conduct an extensive study of the effects of trailers on student achievement and students' self concepts. We will publish, on this web site, pros and cons on issues of "safety" and instruction in "trailers"from any responsible source. We welcome comments and unbiased research on the issue.


These steps were constructed as an entrance to a portable unit. The "trailer" vanished.


Students in this North Georgia school were fortunate to be absent from these substitute school rooms during this tornado.



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