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Agencies Form Panel To Press School Health Issues

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WASHINGTON--Officials of the Health and Human Services Department and the Education Department last week announced the creation of the National Coordinating Committee on School Health to advance health issues in schools.

The new committee will meet twice a year to develop strategies to link departmental programs that touch on the health of schoolchildren, Michael McGinnis, the deputy assistant secretary for health at H.H.S., told members of the National Health/Education Consortium.

The consortium, which consists of the leaders of national health and education associations, convened here last week to discuss how the federal government might better coordinate health and education services.

The co-chairmen of the new committee will be the assistant secretary for health and the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

Consortium members also learned last week that Elaine Holland--recently hired as the special assistant to Ramon Cortines, the assistant secretary-designate for intergovernmental and interagency affairs--will serve as the Education Department's first representative on the health-care task force headed by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Cortines told conference participants that he "was very chagrined'' to discover that there was no representative from education on Mrs. Clinton's task force.

"We need to be part of the discussion from prenatal until they close the lid on us,'' he said.

He urged the members of the consortium, representing 57 national health and education associations with more than 11 million constituents, to "hold our feet to the fire'' and force us to talk about these issues.

No New Goal

Also at last week's meeting, Carrie Billy, a member of the health-care task force and an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told the group that the National Education Goals Panel, of which Mr. Bingaman is a member, would not revise the goals to include health-education language, as a number of groups have called for. (See Education Week, March 31, 1993.)

Ms. Billy said the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which is considering legislation that would codify the goals, determined that the health principles that health-education groups are advocating are already incorporated in the first goal on learning readiness.

Ms. Billy said, however, that the goals panel is planning to hold health-education forums around the country to encourage dialogue on the subject.

"This is just the beginning of the process'' of linking health and education, she said.

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