Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


To close achievement gap, US must address major health risks for urban minority youth

Lack of good health care curtails academic performance

"Educationally relevant health disparities" are key drivers of the achievement gap, "but they are largely overlooked," said Charles Basch, the Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

"Over the past several decades, a variety of strategies have been tried to help close the achievement gap – standards, accountability, NCLB, more rigorous teacher certification – and they're all important, but they won't have the desired effect unless students are ready and motivated to learn."

Basch recently released a meta-study, "Healthier Students Are Better Learners," which focuses on seven health risks that disproportionately impair the academic performance of urban minority youth.

At the College's Cowin Conference Center on March 9, Basch presented his findings and then discussed them with respondents Matthew Yale, Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; and TC alumnus Howell Wechsler, Director of the Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH) for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The event, presented by TC's Campaign for Educational Equity, was moderated by Jane Quinn, Assistant Executive Director for Community Schools for the Children's Aid Society.

Basch, whose study pulls together research from over 300 sources, called the health crisis for the nation's youth "staggering." Among the statistics he cited:

Visual problems affect more than 20 percent of American youth
Asthma affects more than 14 percent of youth under 18
One in three teens is expected to become pregnant
Twenty-eight percent of adolescents have been bullied at school
Two in three students don't get enough physical activity
20 percent of youth skip breakfast on any given day.
About 8 percent of youth ages 6-17 have been diagnosed with hyperactivity
And, Basch said, the situation is far worse for urban minority youth. Among the examples he gave:
Black children are significantly more likely to suffer from asthma, and certain populations within Latinos – most notably Puerto Ricans – are as well. Urban minority youth also have higher rates of poorly controlled asthma, as indicated by over-use of the emergency room and under-use of efficacious medicines.
Non-Hispanic black teens have pregnancy rates three times as high as whites, and rates for Hispanic teens are four times as high as for whites.

Nearly 10 percent of Hispanic youths missed one or more day of school in the past month because they were afraid – a figure more than twice as high as for whites. Rates for blacks were more than 50 percent higher than for whites.

"All of this is old news," Basch said. What's new, he said, is research on how these conditions work together to impair educational outcomes. The combined effect of the seven is synergistic, he said, creating a crisis that is more than the sum of its parts.

So what must happen to change that picture?

"The most important thing is not do just one thing," Basch said. "Instead, we must address a set of priorities simultaneously."

The country needs a national school health strategic plan, Basch said. Yet because education in America is so decentralized, planning must also go on at the local level. Health related measures must be integrated into school accountability mechanisms, and health goals must become part of individual school improvement plans.

For his part, Yale – who previously worked with Duncan in Chicago – said coordination between government agencies on health issues has been improving, as evidenced in particular by the federal response to last year's H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak. That effort brought together USDOE, CDC, the U.S Department of Agriculture and others, with education officials helping to write CDC guidelines.

"I don't think we're siloed anymore," he said.

Yale also cited other indicators that the Obama administration is focused on health. These included First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now up for reauthorization containing an additional $41 million for an initiative focused on healthier schools.

Wechsler, a former student of Basch's, called Basch's findings "insightful and clearly compelling. People in the health fields are often asked 'where's the evidence'" of the need for prioritizing health spending, he said, but Basch's data will enable them to "turn the tables on policymakers."

"Two decades ago, politicians decided to cut back on physical education on the assumption that less time in the gym meant more time in the classroom. Where was the evidence for that?" The results, he said, "threaten to sap the economic competitiveness of our country" and have led to "an epidemic of obesity.

Basch is an expert on behavioral epidemiology, health education program planning and evaluation, and urban and minority populations. He has conducted major evaluations of health interventions among low-income urban minority populations.

Patricia Lamiell | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>