Leadership Message

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Healthier Students are Better Learners

In his study, Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap, Charles Basch, Professor of Health Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, argues that ”Despite compelling evidence linking health and academic achievement, there is no U.S. Department of Education initiative to reduce educationally relevant health disparities as part of a national strategy to close the achievement gap.” Now more than ever, this statement has the potential to be reversed.

When introducing the blueprint for the Administration’s Early Learning Challenge Fund, which calls for investing $10 billion in cutting-edge early childhood programs, President Obama said, “Thanks to the extraordinary leadership and collaboration between the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, we’re taking exciting new steps to ensure the educational success of a new generation of America’s children.” This is not only an unprecedented call from the top for collaboration, but U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan publicly agree that collaboration is imperative and that schools are the natural vehicles for aligning resources to get American youth and children ready for productive, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Community schools have an important role to play that both Secretaries recognize: “Making every school a community school — that’s got to be our collective vision,” observed Secretary Duncan at The Children’s Aid Society’s Community Schools Practicum in October 2009; Secretary Sebelius echoed Duncan, at the Coalition for Community Schools conference in April 2010, when she noted that “Community schools are the vehicle for building partnerships between education and health institutions that touch the lives of children and youth. I can’t think of a better way to deliver primary care and preventative care to students and their families than through school-based clinics."

The fall 2010 issue of Partnership Press focuses on community schools as the vehicle for delivering quality school-based or school-linked health programs and services; we highlight the efforts of Children’s Aid schools as well as the work of the Achievement Plus schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, where health services are available to the entire community. And we travel “across the pond” to see what school-based health looks like in the United Kingdom Extended Schools, in the policy context of Universal Health Care.

Jane Quinn

Director, CAS National Center for Community Schools

Richard Negrón 

Director, CAS Community Schools