Sharon Murray would have Colorado rethink the school paradigm to make providing access to a variety of health-related services simply becomes the default position, and her reasoning is supported by facts.
Sharon Murray, the president of the Rocky Mountain Center for Health Promotion and Education, points out that states which do have “health-supporting policies” (things like minimum health and physical education requirements, an emphasis on healthy nutrition standards, funding for school-based health clinics and other student services) tend to have higher test scores and lower dropout rates than states that don’t. “So my recommendation for action is, the first thing would be supporting health-promoting policies,” Murray said Tuesday at a lecture at the University of Colorado at Denver to discuss strategies for making kids both healthier and smarter. “You know we have no requirements in Colorado for health education or for physical education.”
Murray briefed the audience on some places that are getting it right, and what sort of results they’ve experienced: “Take the McComb, Miss., school district – a small district of 2,900 students in seven schools, 30 percent of whom live below the poverty level and 90 percent of whom qualify for federal lunch aid – adopted a coordinated school health program guided by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The McComb superintendent’s thinking was that only by first having their basic physical needs met could the children achieve their full potential.”
Some of the programs the district set in place for 1997 were health education classes to help students become more knowledgeable about disease and risky behavior; 30 minutes of daily physical education for younger students and two units of PE for high school students; health clinics in each school; fitness classes and annual health checkups for staff; and community involvement through health advisory councils. When this program started, the district had a graduation rate of 77 percent. “By 2004, that had improved to 92 percent, a rate that seems to be holding steady today”, Murray said.
Meanwhile, according to Murray, suspensions dropped 40 percent and juvenile crime plummeted 60 percent. Only three percent of teen mothers who participated in a district-sponsored parenting class went on to have a second baby while in their teen years – a percentage far smaller than the national average of 20 percent.
Now, where do we find the healthcare workers who would be willing to work in the schools? This is where schools like University of Phoenix can help. The programs at University of Phoenix allow workers such great opportunities to earn degrees on their own time and either one ground, online, or blended methods of study. They have transitional programs for high school students into a first-time college program to help the student develop their skills in a more stair-step manner, allowing them to “grow into” a college level student.
University of Phoenix has a Licensed Practical Nurse program, a Licensed Vocational Nurse To Bachelor Of Science In Nursing program, an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and more that fit the needs of those who are interested in advancing healthcare in our Colorado kids. While working in education may not pay as high as working in the field, the dividends are potentially higher. Helping our kids grow stronger and more healthy has its own pay-off.