Education advocates, led by the ACLU and other groups, have for years been pressing the issue of Baltimore's crumbling school buildings, a problem they have estimated would cost $2.8 billion to fix. Some classrooms are stiflingly hot. Others are freezing cold. Water fountains don't work or can't be used because of lead contamination. Electrical systems can't handle the number of computers some schools need. Roofs are leaky, and boilers go out. In all, about 70 percent of city schools are rated in poor condition. Not only do these problems present physical barriers to learning, but they send a message to students and parents that the city does not take seriously its effort to provide a quality education. That city students have achieved what they have under these conditions is remarkable.