Satcher Vows To Put School-Based Health Care in Limelight
At a gathering of educators and health professionals here last week, the nation's new surgeon general, Dr. David Satcher, vowed that he would make promoting school-based health care a priority.
In one of the few addresses Dr. Satcher has made since his Senate confirmation three months ago, the former head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the link between children's health and their academic success is well-documented in research literature. But, he said, what's needed now is the commitment to put effective practices into action.
"Every child must have a healthy start in life, and we should develop a system to ensure that," Dr. Satcher said.
Gerald N. Tirozzi, the Department of Education's assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, who also spoke at the conference last week, said that a comprehensive approach to providing health services at schools is critical. "Unless we have healthy children, it's hard to teach about reading, writing, and arithmetic," he said.
Mr. Tirozzi argued that an important first step is for Congress to fund President Clinton's $200 million budget proposal for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which would pay for tutors and health-care providers for youths.
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Remarks by both Mr. Tirozzi and Dr. Satcher were tied to the recent release of Health Is Academic, a book that offers educators guidelines on how to craft various kinds of coordinated school health programs. The 346-page book is a joint effort of the CDC and the Education Development Center Inc. in Newton, Mass.; 70 national organizations provided input.
In the book, experts in the field identify several model nutrition, physical education, and mental-health programs at schools. The authors also highlight state standards in school health and offer strategies on public and private funding options.
While many districts recognize the need to link health and education programs, such services are often not the top priority of budget-conscious administrators, Mr. Tirozzi said.
Vol. 17, Issue 37, Page 20