Crowley Announces New Legislation to Help Soundproof NYC Schools Against Disruptive Train Noise

September 8, 2014
Press Release

The Peaceful Learning Act Would Give Affected Schools Federal Funding for Noise Abatement

(Queens, N.Y.) Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was joined by NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, NYS Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and parents of elementary students at P.S. 85 at a press conference to announce the Peaceful Learning Act of 2014, new legislation requiring the establishment of a program to mitigate railway noise levels negatively impacting New York City public schools.

Crowley’s bill will direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the impact of railway noise on schools, determine acceptable noise thresholds and assess the effectiveness of abatement programs. Schools that are considered to be subjected to unacceptable noise levels will be eligible to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, along with local matching funds, to construct barriers, acoustical shielding or otherwise soundproof their facilities.

“As another school year begins, it is unconscionable that so many children whose schools are located near elevated trains are forced to learn under these adverse conditions,” said Rep. Crowley. “If we are serious about helping our children reach their full potential, providing an adequate and peaceful learning environment is priority number one. My bill would take meaningful measures to help ensure our children’s classrooms are free from the hazardous effects of the constant roar from passing trains.”

At P.S. 85, the deafening noise caused by passing trains on the elevated N/Q lines adjacent to the school, can have detrimental effects on students’ ability to learn. Students at P.S. 85 are taught a special hand signal to let teachers know they cannot be heard. Lesson interruptions are continual, sometimes as frequent as every two minutes during rush-hour, and it is especially difficult for students to concentrate on assignments and exams.

"We've been fighting for classrooms quiet enough for learning to take place at P.S. 85 for nearly a year now, and while the MTA took some baby steps to fix the problem, it remains nowhere near solved,” said NYS Senator Gianaris. “We are here today to take a bold step that would guarantee students across the country the peaceful learning environment they deserve. I am proud to support Rep. Crowley's Peaceful Learning Act, and I will continue to be a fierce advocate for peaceful classrooms at P.S. 85 and throughout New York City."

"This is great news for the students at P.S. 85, who like all young learners deserve a quiet school environment where they can focus," said NYS Assemblywoman Simotas. "The unacceptable noise level caused by the frequent passing of trains along the adjacent subway tracks directly and negatively impacts the quality of education these students receive. Congressman Crowley's legislation would improve the learning environment for so many bright young minds and ensure quieter classrooms with fewer disruptions."

“All children deserve a school environment conducive to learning,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria). “That includes a safe learning space without the ill-effects of outside noise. Students and teachers at P.S. 85 and schools across Queens have long had to contend with train and noise disruptions.  The Peaceful Learning Act will go a long way to mitigating these disruptions and will foster a world-class academic environment. I commend Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this important issue."

“The constant disruption and need to refocus every few minutes due to the high decibel elevated subway noise severely hurts our children’s ability to learn,” said Parent Association Vice President Evie Hantzopoulos. “This issue is critically important and we applaud Congressman Crowley's efforts to address the health and educational needs of our children.”

The Peaceful Learning Act is modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration’s Noise Abatement Program which helps schools close to airports soundproof their facilities to insulate them from the noise of airplanes departing and arriving nearby. Currently, no comparable program exists at the federal level for schools affected by noise from trains. Since entering Congress, Crowley has been actively working to address the issue of noise pollution throughout his district. In his first term, he secured funds for a study on the impact of aircraft noise on health and learning.

Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.