Dr. Charles Basch Discusses Health and Education Disparities

May 11, 2011

On April 6, 2011, Healthy Schools Campaign and the Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services convened a citywide forum on strategies to address health disparities and support student wellness and learning. At the forum, more than 400 attendees heard about the latest research on the impact of health disparities on student achievement and learned what education leaders at the local and national level are doing to address these disparities and support student success. 

This forum was a cornerstone of Heroes for Healthy Schools, the series of events that HSC co-hosted with the Office of Minority Health and Chicago Public Schools for National Minority Health Month. You can learn more about Heroes for Healthy Schools here

In the weeks ahead, we will spotlight the remarkable speakers who shared their perspectives on health disparities and education at the forum. Today, we are featuring Dr. Charles Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Columbia University Teachers College.  

You may also view video of all the speakers' remarks, download the presentations they shared at forum, and see relevant research on HSC’s website

Dr. Charles Basch, Richard March Hoe Professor of Health Education at Columbia University Teachers College, discussed the ways that health disparities have an impact on education and the role schools can play in addressing health disparities. 

He pointed out that health disparities and wellness have been largely overlooked in efforts to improve student success and learning. If health problems compromise students’ motivation and ability to learn, he said, educational efforts such as teacher preparation, financing, and curriculum are jeopardized.

Dr. Basch outlined seven educationally relevant disparities:

  • One in five youth have vision problems.
  • Asthma, the most common chronic disease, affects 14 percent or 9.9 million youth under 18 years of age.
  • Teen pregnancy will affect one in three teens in their lifetime.
  • Aggression and violence affects children at all levels; 28 percent of children are bullied at school and 35 percent have been in a fight in the last year.
  • Two out of three children don’t get enough physical activity.
  • Twenty percent of children skip breakfast on any given day. 
  • ADHD affects 4.6 million school-aged youth. 

Dr. Basch pointed out that these factors disproportionally affect minority communities. He encouraged forum attendees to make a difference by working together. He said, 

“The single most effective approach is to address these disproportional issues collectively.” 

You can learn more and see the full presentation in the video above and can download Dr. Basch’s slides here [pdf].

Plus! Check out this recent post on HSC’s blog about Dr. Basch’s work and his latest report, “Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap.”