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It Starts with Healthy Students: Report by TC's Basch is distributed nationwide by the Education Commission of the States

A report co-authored by TC’s Charles Basch, highlighting the importance of student health and its relationship to achievement in the classroom, is being distributed by the Education Commission of the States to education policymakers and health officials nationwide.

Titled Health Barriers to Learning and the Education Opportunity Gap, the report – part of the ECS ongoing “Progress of Education Reform” series – provides a brief history of school health policies. It also outlines the importance of school health as it relates to school reform, details key trends and offers insights to better inform the decisions made by policymakers.

“More than any other public institution, schools are in frequent contact with students, and have some influence over their health and health behaviors,” write Basch, TC’s Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education, and coauthors Delaney Gracy, Dennis Johnson and Anupa Fabian, who serve respectively as chief medical officer, head of policy and advocacy, and head of evaluation at Children’s Health Fund

Noting that poverty, which disproportionately affects black and Hispanic youth, is directly and negatively linked to health and fitness, the authors report that the proportion of adolescents living in poor and near-poor families has increased from 35 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2013. “For the first time in American history, nearly half (48 percent) of youth — primarily black and Hispanic — attending public schools live in poverty or low-income families,” they write.

In 2010, in work originally commissioned by TC’s Campaign for Educational Equity, Basch documented the scope of “educationally relevant health disparities” in a meta-analysis that filled an entire issue of the Journal of School Health. Incorporating information from hundreds of previous studies by other researchers, he showed unequivocally that poorer students suffer disproportionately from a group of interrelated health problems – poor vision, asthma, teen pregnancy, aggression and violence, inadequate physical activity, insufficient breakfast, and inattention and hyperactivity – that directly hinder their achievement in school. He has also called attention to precisely how and why each health issue affects school performance and framed a blueprint for change that would put schools themselves at the center of a coordinated network of health stakeholders, including parents, teachers, state and city agencies and schools of education.

Since then Basch has addressed audiences across the country, ranging from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and state and city education commissioners, to advocacy group leaders, representatives of private foundations, school boards, teachers, parents and concerned citizens. More recently, he designed the Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative for Children’s Health Fund, the nonprofit founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Columbia public health authority Irwin Redlener that targets the nation's most medically underserved children. This past year the organization launched school-based pilot programs in New York City to demonstrate the impact of robust and systematic screening and management of health-related barriers to learning.  

Published Monday, Aug. 17, 2015

It Starts with Healthy Students: Report by TC's Basch is distributed nationwide by the Education Commission of the States

A report co-authored by TC’s Charles Basch, highlighting the importance of student health and its relationship to achievement in the classroom, is being distributed by the Education Commission of the States to education policymakers and health officials nationwide.

Titled Health Barriers to Learning and the Education Opportunity Gap, the report – part of the ECS ongoing “Progress of Education Reform” series – provides a brief history of school health policies. It also outlines the importance of school health as it relates to school reform, details key trends and offers insights to better inform the decisions made by policymakers.

“More than any other public institution, schools are in frequent contact with students, and have some influence over their health and health behaviors,” write Basch, TC’s Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education, and coauthors Delaney Gracy, Dennis Johnson and Anupa Fabian, who serve respectively as chief medical officer, head of policy and advocacy, and head of evaluation at Children’s Health Fund

Noting that poverty, which disproportionately affects black and Hispanic youth, is directly and negatively linked to health and fitness, the authors report that the proportion of adolescents living in poor and near-poor families has increased from 35 percent in 2007 to 41 percent in 2013. “For the first time in American history, nearly half (48 percent) of youth — primarily black and Hispanic — attending public schools live in poverty or low-income families,” they write.

In 2010, in work originally commissioned by TC’s Campaign for Educational Equity, Basch documented the scope of “educationally relevant health disparities” in a meta-analysis that filled an entire issue of the Journal of School Health. Incorporating information from hundreds of previous studies by other researchers, he showed unequivocally that poorer students suffer disproportionately from a group of interrelated health problems – poor vision, asthma, teen pregnancy, aggression and violence, inadequate physical activity, insufficient breakfast, and inattention and hyperactivity – that directly hinder their achievement in school. He has also called attention to precisely how and why each health issue affects school performance and framed a blueprint for change that would put schools themselves at the center of a coordinated network of health stakeholders, including parents, teachers, state and city agencies and schools of education.

Since then Basch has addressed audiences across the country, ranging from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and state and city education commissioners, to advocacy group leaders, representatives of private foundations, school boards, teachers, parents and concerned citizens. More recently, he designed the Healthy and Ready to Learn Initiative for Children’s Health Fund, the nonprofit founded by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and Columbia public health authority Irwin Redlener that targets the nation's most medically underserved children. This past year the organization launched school-based pilot programs in New York City to demonstrate the impact of robust and systematic screening and management of health-related barriers to learning.  

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