Making Health A Priority in the Office of Civil Rights’ Data Collection

August 20, 2013

At Healthy Schools Campaign, our work revolves around the commonsense notion that a healthy child is a more successful student. Low-income and minority children are more likely to attend schools that do not have daily physical education or recess, have poor indoor air quality and/or do not have a full time school nurse…

“Healthier students are better learners. Strategically planned and evidence-based school health programs and services have been shown to have a positive correlation with academic achievement. Taking thoughtful steps to make school-based health services accessible to high-poverty schools and districts and to remote schools and districts can result in healthier students, better educational achievement and lasting long-term physical and socioeconomic benefits.” -U.S. Department of Education, For Each and Every Child—A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence, Washington, D.C., 2013.

At Healthy Schools Campaign, our work revolves around the commonsense notion that a healthy child is a more successful student. Low-income and minority children are more likely to attend schools that do not have daily physical education or recess, have poor indoor air quality and/or do not have a full time school nurse. For Each and Every Child—A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence, a recent report from the U.S. Department of Education, clearly articulates the importance of addressing health disparities to improve education. This report, which was staffed by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), draws attention to the need to better integrate health into how we view educational disparities.

We are asking OCR to act on the recommendations included in For Each and Every Child by adding health indicators to their survey of our nation’s schools. OCR collects data from the nation’s schools every other year in order to prevent and address discrimination. The current survey collects important information on what goes on inside schools; however, it lacks key indicators around the conditions of facilities, food, fitness and health services.

Today is the final day of the Office of Civil Rights’ comment period asking for feedback on their survey. Although the comment period ends today, we encourage you to download our comments. Imagine how powerful it would be to have information that allows us to place a lens on the health disparities in our nation’s schools. This data collection tool can help ensure these disparities are addressed.