To reflect on the new administration’s first 100 days, we released the 100 Day Report: The Trump Administration’s Actions on Student Health and Wellness. At its core, the report tries to answer the question: How has the Trump administration acted on the opportunity to help create a better future for our children and our nation by improving health in schools?
Because children spend most of their waking hours outside of their home in school, the physical environment of schools can have a profound impact on their health and ability to learn. Providing a healthy environment for all children at school is an important responsibility of the government.
Unfortunately, the budget proposed by the administration includes a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the body responsible for implementing school environmental health policy. The EPA currently offers guidance and tools for states, school districts and schools to ensure students have access to a healthy environment, such as state school environmental health guidelines and school siting guidelines. In addition, the EPA is naturally positioned to address critical unmet needs in school environmental health, including issues surrounding indoor air quality, safe drinking water and safe, health-promoting schoolyards. A cut in funding to this agency is a cut in the access that schools have to needed supports for safe, healthy school environments.
Research also shows that schools serving low-income communities of color have higher rates of environmental health hazards as compared to the national average. These environmental factors can exacerbate health problems and contribute to perpetuating educationally relevant health disparities such as asthma. Efforts to scale back support for the EPA’s ability to implement national environmental health policy for schools means that this disparity is more likely to continue or worsen.
We are concerned that the actions of this administration in its first 100 days indicate a lack of regard for the value of school health. These actions have in some cases put important supports for health and learning in jeopardy, including supports for our nation’s most vulnerable children.
In this context, your advocacy and leadership are more important than ever. These first 100 days show that it’s up to us—parents, teachers, advocates, elected officials and all who care about children’s health and learning—to carry on the work of ensuring every school can provide a safe and healthy learning environment for our nation’s children.
Read the full report to learn more about the specific actions the administration has taken and what the impacts might be. We have also developed a template letter that you can send to the White House to show the President that you care about student health and wellness and his administration should, too!