Posted by: Francis Koster Published: January 17, 2024

Catching You Up and Refreshing Your Brain After a Long Holiday Break (January 16, 2024)

Reminding you that our mission is to improve North Carolina’s K-12 schools by introducing you to little known information about how factors inside a school, but outside the classroom teaching process lower student learning. We will explain unknown problems, introduce you to known solutions, and introduce you to possible funding.

Our mailing list has now grown to over 14,000 North Carolina school board members, school administrators, elected officials, school nurses, teachers, and faculty at our state’s Schools of Education. The percentage of recipients who actually read these newsletters (65%) ranks among the top in national email campaigns. Looks like we are meeting a need!

We are pleased to report that some recipients who read about one of the funding opportunities we mentioned in prior newsletters applied for and received funding for electric school buses. Yippee! This funding opportunity is going to repeat, with a deadline of January 31, 2024. Go for it! See the link under FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES, below.

How Pollution in North Carolina Schools impacts learning

One in five Americans attends(1) (2) or works(3)  at a public or private K-12 school. (4)

According to the EPA and National Education Association, half of these adults and children spend their days exposed to poor indoor air quality and other indoor environmental risks. (5) This includes exposure to Radon Gas, lead in drinking water, mold and asthma related situations, and high levels of Carbon Dioxide.

Seventy-seven out of North Carolina’s 100 Counties have high risk of radon pollution in buildings. (6) This risk is high enough that when a home or other building is sold in North Carolina, the law requires it must be inspected for Radon. Since schools are never sold, they are never tested.

EPA estimates that more than 70,000 schoolrooms in use today have high short-term radon levels. (7) Risk of lung cancer in children resulting from exposure to radon may be almost twice as high as the risk to adults(8)

Our partner organization, The Pollution Detectives, Inc. (a North Carolina 501-c-3), will loan you (for free) simple-to-use meters that you can quickly install and place yourself to do your own Radon survey. (Note: There is an emerging set of regulations being designed to explore how much it will cost to have professionals perform such surveys for North Carolina school – but the answer will be in the billions of dollars, not likely to be funded, and you should not wait. Do what you can now, and do not let the political dance slow you down.) (9)

You can see a map of high risk counties here.

If you are interested in exploring this possibility, go to, and read the column about radon. A link exists there to file a form to borrow equipment.

We are seeking a partner for a pilot project.

In Newsletters sent previously I mentioned that in America one in five K-12 students have unrecognized and undiagnosed hearing loss, and one in four have unrecognized and undiagnosed vision issues – both of which make it harder for students to learn, regardless of how hard good teachers work. As we mentioned, unlike other states, North Carolina does not require mass review of K-12 vision or hearing after early grades, even though many students develop these issues during puberty and beyond. As a consequence, an enormous number of students learn below their mental ability. This problem compounds as the student’s early learning deficit prevents advanced learning, and contributes to higher drop-out rates, lower standardized test scores, lower statewide rankings, and lower property values in the school’s neighborhood.

Fixing this is a win-win for the student, their family, and our society.

The way to do this you conduct what is called a “ Mass Survey” – not a “Screening” ( a word with legal and bureaucratic meaning). A “Mass Survey“ has a goal of testing everyone, and identifying students who should be referred to a licensed clinical professional for a “Screening”

It is possible to do “mass surveys” by having students play 5 minute computer games played on i-pads, laptops, or desktops computers, for both hearing and vision. The software is free, and the Survey can be done by college students or adult volunteers.

We want to demonstrate the impact of this kind of effort, and are looking for partners that we can work with to do a pilot project during which we would design the protocol including parental consent, referrals to licensed clinical professionals, and evaluate which software to use.

One of the keys to success is recruitment of volunteers to set up the project.

We are prepared to provide a few thousand dollars of financial support to support one partner school system or community organization so they can compensate a member of the planning team who will also be a Head of Project Volunteer Recruitment. Working together we will locate the needed computer games, protocol, and training. Once we complete the pilot project, the learnings will be shared with all school systems in North Carolina.

If you are interested in learning more, and possible working together on this project, please reach out here:


  3., employed%20over%208%20million%20people%20..
  5. h,air%20quality%20can%20affect%20children..
  6. North Carolina Radon Program | NCDHHS
  8. h,increases%20at%20least%2020%20times.%22
  10. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Table 2.14, Chap. 2, p. 212


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Francis P. Koster Ed.D.

Proven local solutions to national problems.


Francis P. Koster, Ed. D.

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Kannapolis, NC 28081

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