Writing the Book on School Health
The American School Health Association devotes their October 2011 special issue to how and why specific health problems adversely affect academic achievement among the nation’s urban minority youth. Publication of nine articles in the issue – all of which were authored by Charles Basch, TC’s Richard March Hoe Professor of Health and Education -- was funded by a grant from the MetLife Foundation. Collectively titled “Healthier Students Are Better Learners,” the articles document the extent of seven health issues – vision, asthma, teen pregnancy, aggression and violence, physical activity, breakfast, and inattention and hyperactivity – that disproportionately affect low-income, minority youth, and detail the specific ways that these problems contribute to the nation’s school achievement gap. A concluding paper outlines a strategy for combating these issues with school health programs coordinated by an extensive cast of national, regional and local players.
“The value of Basch’s work is much greater than his detailed descriptions of the connection between health and learning,” writes Howell Wechsler, Basch’s former student at TC and now Director of the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a preface to the special issue. “He also makes a strong case for why health promotion needs to be a fundamental part of elementary and secondary education and identifies a clear set of policy actions that need to be taken at the federal, state, and local levels to support effective and efficient school health programs.”
The Journal of School Health is the official journal of the American School Health Association. Basch, who dedicated the special issue to “the urban minority youth of America,” turned down several book offers to publish in the Journal, on the condition that its contents be made available free on the Web. The issue can be viewed at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josh.2011.81.issue-10/issuetoc. The articles in the special issue are updated versions of a report by Basch originally commissioned – and funded, in part – by the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College.