Archive for the ‘health care reform’ Category

Community Schools? 

Thursday, May 11th, 2017
small island school perfect for community school

small island school perfect for community school

Let’s concentrate on the news about the president’s proposed FY 2018 budget and, not yet signed into law, AHCA which passed in the House of Representatives and now goes to the Senate.

What jumps out to an educator is the decline in $9 billion in funds allocated to the U. S. Department of Education with no outcry from the administration’s cabinet member, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Next, the decline in funds in the AHCA plan for Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) which immediately, if it becomes law, affects the health and readiness to succeed for students from pre-K to 12th grade.

If $1 billion of the budget is diverted from existing programs to voucher-type programs, then after-school programs, class size, professional development, Pell grants are likely to go. (Note, however, Ms. DeVos has said year-round Pell Grant funding will be restored, but she has decided to roll back loan protections for borrowers. New York Times, “Graduates Meet DeVos with their Backs Turned” by Erica L. Green, May 11, 2017) If Medicaid becomes block grants with not enough money for a state to provide for all residents, the vulnerable are the victims and so, money will be diverted from education funds to provide for insurance for those with pre-existing condition, for children, for the elderly – children helped to stay alive, but no school. Is that not juggling until the balls drop? See NEA Education Insider, May 7, 2017.

Because of apprehension about possible disasters to public school education, establishment of well-defined and implemented “community schools” may help to overcome fears. In fact, states, districts, and even local communities have found ways to consolidate resources and people to ameliorate education problems, especially in low-income neighborhoods. In fact, Randi Weingarten, AFT president, escorted Betsy DeVos to see a community school in Dayton, Ohio.

However, many school districts have health centers or preschools or after-school programs or attendance clerks, nurses, and counselors or a public library attached to a school, but are not organized to be proficient and productive.

What are the ‘best practices’ model for community schools?

Two national organizations can help a school or district or region establish a community school: the Coalition for Community Schools, housed at the Institute for Educational Leadership, and The Children’s Aid Society of the National Center for Community Schools. Both organizations are standards-driven and use evidence-based strategies to promote equity and educational excellence, as noted on the websites.

The models are set to devise and implement four components to ensure a good community school. Focusing on Academics, think tutoring, homework centers, arts and music programs, academic challenge games, student government. For Health, think an open gym, dental and mental health centers, intramural sport programs, and an on-site clinic. For Community Resources, think advisory councils, services located at or near the school, community partners who seek funding. For Family, think ESL or GED or literacy classes, fitness, homework help for parents in school, adult sports. The options are endless to make the parents, community, and students think of the school as the resource for all.

The models instituted in Erie, Pennsylvania; New York City; Oxnard, California; and Flint, Michigan call for a coordinator to oversee and foster relentless support for the school community. The payoff is a place where education is valued and supported.

The hard part is the persistent under-funding, especially in low-income regions, and to secure state level fiscal equity and funding adequacy. Reading about New York City’s initiative, first call is to make efficient leverage of current and new public funding; second, use the district’s financial department knowledge to search for foundation grant funding; third, as many Harlem Children’s Zone community schools do, look to the private sector to broker partners and funding.

The end outcome is to achieve sustainability for community schools, and that is why the FY 2018 budget and AHCA are unnerving.

 

 

Why Are So Many Schools In Trouble?

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Poor student performance on standardized tests is almost always blamed on poor teachers. Easy to point the finger at the adult in the room. Not the correct answer, of course. But, who wants to think hard to solve a complex problem filled with hurdles like that of achieving student progress?

high-performing middle school

high-performing middle school

Two New York Times articles, a week apart, pursue the issue. In the July 22, 2012 article “Sunday Dialogue: Improving Our Schools,” Stephen Krashen, well-known USC professor who has written extensively on the persistence of poor achievement in low-performing schools, bluntly states poverty is the problem. Students in middle class and well-to-do neighborhoods do fine on the voluminous amount of testing that establishes student proficiency nowadays. However, low performance due to poverty makes the United States rank 34 out of 35 in economically advanced countries.

Krashen points to inadequate nutrition, poor health care, little access to books that equals low student achievement. When Congress and states undertake the legislation to address those needs schools will improve.

Look at the July 29, 2012 article “Poverty in America: Why Can’t We End It?” by Peter Edelman. While Stephen Krashen’s piece focused on low achievement in schools and the mistaken idea that more testing is going to improve impoverished students’ scores, Edelman looks at poverty of all people in the United States. He points out that low wage jobs, households headed by a single parent, disappearance of cash assistance, and persistent issues of race and gender keep 15% of the nation in poverty and the communities where those people live filled with low-performing schools.

Although the media dwells on the low-income problem, the economy has grown, but for the top 1%. Edelman names familiar remedies to reverse the stagnate distribution of wealth: the rich pay their fair share, the minimum wage rises, good health care and a decent safety net become entrenched.

Right now the budget plan put forth by the House of Representatives will not reduce poverty and so will not support improvement for low-performing schools. Edelman hopes that enough people will organize to tip the scale in the direction it should go.

For example, teachers in the California Teachers Association are stepping up to work for passage of Proposition 30 and Proposition 32 in the November 2012 elections. Simply put, Prop 30, if passed, will allow a sales tax increase for 4 years and a personal income tax increase for 7 years to provide revenues for K-12 and community colleges. It also allows a tax shift to local governments to pay for services cut in previous years.

A “no” vote on Prop. 32 will defeat an attempt by corporations and Super PACs to make unions unable to collect payroll deductions for PACs to support candidates and initiatives in the teachers, firefighters, police interests.

The U.S. Department of Education has already instigated many changes to improve teaching and learning in the poorest public schools. Congress needs to tackle legislation to reduce poverty. That’s when excellence for all students will emerge.

Healthy Schools-Look Again

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Congress is still quarreling over health care services, even though the bill, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was passed in March 2010.

Let’s review once again how health care reform will help schools.

Since 2010, Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and exercise campaign supports students. Such children have the stamina and perseverance to learn, a school reform goal to close the academic achievement gap for ‘at risk’ students.

It’s another fact that the entire school community–parents, school personnel with and without their own children, the next-door neighbors, city council members, and the governor– benefit from an improved health care system.

Until the arguments stop and care begins, what has happened?

At low-performing schools, the majority of students come from families where the parents work hard at low-paying jobs with minimal health coverage and high co-payments.  Or worse, the employer can’t afford to offer coverage. Parents are fearful of applying for Medicaid because of immigration complexities.

So, the student gets a cold, but he goes to school anyway because the parents can’t take time off to care for him.  He gives the cold to another student.  That child doesn’t go to the doctor because the parents can’t afford the co-pay.  Then the teacher gets the cold and uses sick days to recover.

Please don’t shrug and say ‘that’s life.’  The student can hardly hear or participate in lessons because his head is stuffed up.  The substitute does her best, but can’t teach the lesson as well as the regular teacher, who knows the students.  Days and days of learning are lost.

And that’s just a common cold.

In many low-performing schools, students go without glasses or hearing aids.  It’s easy to understand how those children have learning difficulties.

But what about teeth problems?  The parent doesn’t have coverage so nothing happens until the child comes to school with a swollen cheek and the part-time health aide makes an appointment with the county health clinic.  Then the parent must take off work for which she doesn’t get paid, and they sit for hours in the clinic waiting to see the dentist.  More school days missed.

Other obstacles stand in the path to good health. How many states with budget problems have cut back on community clinics?  In how many states is the public supporting health care and school reform, but unwilling to pay for it?

People say it costs too much.  I need the money.  I don’t have kids.  I’m as healthy as a horse, don’t even want insurance for myself much less those kids.

Suppose, then, the student’s father gets cancer.  The family’s bread winner can’t work, has huge medical bills, and loses his insurance.  The next-door neighbor, the city council member, and the governor end up paying higher premiums for their coverage as hospitals and medical groups shift the health care costs because of the father who can’t pay any longer.  Don’t forget the days the student can’t pay attention in class, worried over her father’s illness.  She stays home from school to care for her baby brother so the mother can go to the hospital.

What to do?

Once all the new health care legislation goes into effect, the school community should hope the dad with cancer gets health insurance with a medical/hospital group where the medical staff is paid for the quality of care they give, not for the number of services.  One sure way to lower health care costs for everyone.

The school community should hope the doctors will have all the dad’s records and send him quickly to the oncology department.  A traveling nurse will visit the family at home.  The children won’t miss school.

These sad stories weren’t made up to get sympathy.  These were actual situations at the school where I taught.

It’s why the entire country must get behind health care reform. Low-income families can get insurance and the regular guy won’t pay out for an unhealthy insurance model.

Finally, instead of coughs, ear infections, drowsiness, students will concentrate on becoming successful learners.

Same school issues, fierce opinions

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

In the media this past week, education news, opinion, and letters to the editor ranged from pieces on kids, parents, and teachers to budgets and unions. Same issues, fierce opinions.

Kids and parents…

On Monday, March 21, KQED, the local San Francisco NPR station, commented on the revised school assignment system from the district’s assignment center. After years of complaints, it now appears that parents are not requesting the neighborhood school as first choice, but the school with the preferred program–especially language immersion; schools with high-achieving scores on state tests; and new K-8 schools. Variety in school programs is wonderful for a diverse population. One hopes money doesn’t disappear as schools open next year.

Close schools or convert…

The Detroit school board, facing governance, academic, and above all, financial problems, is preparing to vote to convert 41 of the 141 public schools to charter schools. The financial manager brought in to straighten out the financial woes for the district feels the numerous low-performing schools must have a strong overhaul to begin to address the academic needs of students. The 73,000 students in the large urban district will attend new charters in September 2011 or find their neighborhood schools closed. District finances are that dire. The pros and cons can be read in 3/21/11 Edweek on-line.

How students do better…

Good health is an effect of good education. One year after the Affordable Care Act of 2010, economist William H. Dow, U.C. Berkeley, asserted the relationship between well-educated Americans and health.  The idea is that adults without a college degree, much less a high school diploma, have poor health habits and can’t get jobs to pay for health insurance. The circle of distress goes round and round.  The conclusion is that the California legislature and U.S. Congress should not be niggling over the cost of education because in the long term health costs will be saved. Sound plausible? See the March 20, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle “Insight” article.

Women on the children’s side…

Friday, March 18, 2011, Gloria Taylor, co-president of the California American Association of University Women, wrote a letter to the editor for the state’s 1,000 women members. The association, on behalf of women and children, supports the tax revenue extension proposition on the June 2011 ballot to bring the California budget into balance. Who will a balanced budget help? Students for sure.

Unions and the judge…

On Friday, March 18, 2011, efforts in Wisconsin to wipe out public sector collective bargaining rights were stalled when Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court in Madison, Wisconsin, ordered a temporary restraining order to block the law from taking effect. After a month of raucous marching and devious legislative maneuvering, both sides of the conflict are waiting for legal moves. Public sector employees hope for the best. Teachers know that collective bargaining is one tool for revising fraught evaluation procedures, the huge and necessary need for teacher stability.

Healthy Schools

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Consider how health care reform can help schools.

It’s a fact that healthy students have the stamina and perseverance to learn, a school reform goal to close the academic achievement gap for ‘at risk’ students.

It’s another fact that the entire school community, parents, teachers with and without their own children, the next-door neighbors, city council members, and the governor will benefit from a new and improved health care system.

Here’s what we have now.

At low-performing schools, the majority of students come from families where the parents work hard at low-paying jobs with minimal health coverage and high co-payments.  Or worse, the employer can’t afford to offer coverage.

The student gets a cold, but he goes to school anyway because the parents can’t take time off to care for him.  He gives the cold to another student.  That child doesn’t go to the doctor because the parents can’t afford the co-pay.  Then the teacher gets the cold and uses sick days to recover.

Please don’t shrug and say ‘that’s life.’  The student can hardly hear or participate in lessons because his head is stuffed up.  The substitute does her best, but can’t teach the lesson as well as the regular teacher, who knows the students.  Days and days of learning are lost.

And that’s just a common cold.

In many low-performing schools, students go without glasses or hearing aids.  It’s easy to understand how those children have difficulties learning.

What about teeth problems?  The parent doesn’t have coverage so nothing happens until the child comes to school with a swollen cheek and the part-time health aide makes an appointment with the county health clinic.  Then the parent must take off work for which she doesn’t get paid, and they sit for hours in the clinic waiting to see the dentist.  More school days missed.

How many states with budget problems have cut back on community clinics?  In how many states is the public supporting health care and school reform, but unwilling to pay for changes.

It costs too much.  I need the money.  I don’t have kids.  I’m as healthy as a horse, don’t even want insurance for myself much less those kids.

Suppose, then, the student’s father gets cancer.  The family’s bread winner can’t work, has huge medical bills, and loses his insurance.  The next-door neighbor, the city council member, and the governor end up paying higher premiums for their coverage as a way hospitals and medical groups shift the health care costs because of the father who can’t pay any longer.

Don’t forget the days the student can’t pay attention in class, worried over her father’s illness.  She stays home from school to care for her baby brother so the mother can go to the hospital.

What to do?

The school community should hope the dad with cancer has health insurance with a medical/hospital group where the medical staff is paid for the quality of care they give, not for the number of services.  One sure way to lower health care costs for everyone.

The doctors will have all the dad’s records and send him quickly to the oncology department.  A traveling nurse will visit the family at home.  The children won’t miss school.

These stories aren’t made up to get sympathy.  These were actual situations at the school where I taught.

It’s why the entire country must get behind health care reform.  Low-income families can get insurance and the regular guy won’t pay out for an unhealthy insurance model.  Finally, students will be successful learners.