School Health Education and Services
SHES Chair's Message
Last fall my Chair's Message focused on the importance of rebuilding the Gulf Coast schools for the sake of the students as well as the survival of the communities. It was the first anniversary of the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Another year has passed, and rebuilding continues. According to the 2007 report of the Southern Education Foundation Inc. that was completed this past summer entitled Education after Katrina, Time for a New Federal Response, large areas are still in rubble, and families are still in despair over lost loved ones and lost homes. Normal life for many has not returned.
After the storms, students displaced from the Gulf Coast attended school in 49 states, often with insufficient supplies and personnel to meet their needs. Those schools who served these children reported an increase in disciplinary problems, high absenteeism and greater need for mental health counseling. Also, displaced children often had serious health problems and poor academic performance on state tests.
At the start of the 2007-2008 academic year, over $2.5 billion has been committed by the federal government for relief and recovery related to education after Hurricane Katrina. Yet these funds represent barely 2 percent of all federal funding committed to address the aftermath of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. For every $2.5 billion spent for other relief the last two years, the federal government has found only $1 to spend for Katrina-related education (www.southerneducation.org). Clearly, greater support for education, particularly in light of these problems and funding shortfalls, is needed.
Another example of federal attention to the health and education of children is the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP has passed the House and Senate but is expected to be vetoed by President Bush. The program covers the children of low-income families not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid but not wealthy enough to afford private health insurance. The bipartisan legislature that was passed was estimated to provide coverage for an additional 6 million children. Bush and other opponents of the bill said the costs were too much, and it was a step towards universal coverage.
I mention these issues as significant examples of how school health education and services requires our advocacy efforts on the federal as well as state and local levels. I urge you to contact your legislators. Educate them about important school health education and services issues and encourage them to initiate and pass legislation that supports and adequately funds school health education and services.
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Advocacy versus Lobbying
Can I legally get involved with APHA’s advocacy activities? In most cases, YES!
Many school health practitioners who work for government agencies, school districts, non-profit organizations, or foundations worry about violating anti-lobbying laws if they get involved in advocacy. It is important not to break any law, but the zone of advocacy to influence healthy changes in the environment and policy is wider than you might think.
As a private citizen and public health professional you can legally respond to APHA’s “calls for action” to contact your legislators on matters of public concern. This is even true for public employees: the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public employment cannot be conditioned on a surrender of constitutional free speech rights (for more on the free speech rights of public employees see the First Amendment Center brief at www.fac.org/PDF/FirstReport.PublicEmployees.PDF). When contacting a legislator or legislative staff person you may identify what kind of work you do in order to establish your credibility, but you should always be careful not to suggest that you are representing your employer without clearing it in advance. Some states’ laws restrict state employees from lobbying at the state level — be sure to find out what restrictions might apply.
Representatives of non-profit organizations and foundations have some leeway to lobby. Although federal or other government funds can never be used for any kind of lobbying, foundations and non-profit organizations can spend up to 20 percent of their total budget on direct lobbying activities, and up to 25 percent of total lobbying or 5 percent of the total budget for grassroots lobbying activities. Lobbying is defined as an attempt to influence a specific piece of legislation that has been introduced in a legislative body, or to express support or opposition to specific legislative proposals. Lobbying includes action that transmits a point of view on a specific bill or a specific appropriation to elected officials or their staffs, as well as grassroots lobbying activities urging the public to contact their legislators about a specific piece of legislation.
“Advocacy” is a broader concept than lobbying and is not constrained by law. As explained by the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits (www.mncn.org/lobbylaw.htm), several categories of activities are excluded from the term “influencing legislation:”
· Examinations and discussions of broad social, economic and similar problems: communication with respect to legislation which is of direct interest to an organization’s members, so long as the discussion does not address the merits of a specific legislative proposal and make no call for action.
· Non-partisan analysis or research: studying community problems and their potential solutions is considered non-partisan if it is “an independent and objective exposition of a particular subject matter...(which) may advocate a particular position or viewpoint so long as there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of pertinent facts to enable the public or an individual to form an independent opinion or conclusion.”
· Regulatory and administrative issues: communication with governmental officials or employees on non-legislative (i.e. administrative) matters such as rule-making.
· Technical advice: providing technical advice to a governmental body in response to a written communication.
· Self-defense: communication on any legislation that would affect an organization's existence, powers and duties, tax-exempt status, or deductibility of contributions.
While lobbying can be part of an advocacy strategy, advocacy does not necessarily include lobbying. Advocacy is legal even when only one side of an issue is presented, as long as no call to action on a particular piece of legislation is issued.
APHA is working to make it easy for public health professionals to engage in advocacy activities. Log on to www.apha.org/advocacy for information and tools.
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Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
APHA Annual Meeting
I hope to see many of you at the APHA Annual Meeting Nov. 3-7 in Washington, D.C. Once again, SHES had a disproportionate number of abstracts submitted to our section. SHES is allotted a limited number of sessions for scientific sessions so it was with regret that we couldn’t accept many fine abstracts we received. But we will have timely and informative sessions that I’m sure will be excellent! Please see the SHES Program at a Glance link in the newsletter to view the SHES sponsored presenentaions, roundtables, and poster sessions.
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Once again SHES had a large number of student abstract submissions of high quality. The SHES Annual Student Abstract Winners are:
The two “SHES Student Award” winners are (Both of these students will receive each $100 and a plaque in Washington, D.C.):
1. Christopher M. Fisher, MA - For his Abstract submission: “Sexual Health of Same Sex-Attracted Male Youth: Impacts of Abstinence-Only Sexuality Education.
Chris is with the Sexual Health Research Working Group, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind. He is working on his PhD.
2. Michelle Snow, RN, MSPH, MSHR – her abstract was entitled: “Inexpensive and Time Efficient Hand Hygiene Interventions Increase Elementary School Children’s Hand Hygiene Rates.”
Michelle is with the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Public Health Program, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Four individuals will be HONORABLE MENTIONS in this year’s SHES/APHA Program: The Abstracts submitted by these individuals were of outstanding quality.
1. Lori Usher-Pines, MSc – Johns Hopkins University
2. Lynne H. Mann, MS,MPH, PhD - Brandeis University
3. Kristin H. McIntosh, MPH, CHES - Eastern Carolina University
4. Frank Bandiera - University of Florida
Congratulations to these students for their outstanding submissions.
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Get involved in SHES
If you are not already actively involved in SHES I invite you to do so. You can do a number of things. Volunteer to run for office, review abstracts, and/or come to our council meetings. Our meetings in Washington are Sunday, Nov. 4, , Tuesday, Nov.6 at 7 a.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 7 am. All meetings will be in the Renaissance Hotel Room 6. All are welcome! Since SHES is a relatively small section, it provides members a sometimes quicker, more direct route to leadership positions in SHES and also the larger structure of APHA. For those of you in the tenure race or working on promotions, leadership roles in professional organizations may be helpful and SHES is a great opportunity for this.
Get Others involved in SHES
I also invite you to get your colleagues involved in SHES. If they are already APHA members, suggest they identify SHES as their section. If they are not APHA members, encourage them to join and become involved with SHES.
Let us know what SHES can do for it’s members (within the limits of our volunteer capacity and very tiny budget…). Some examples would be what kind of sessions would be most helpful to you at the Annual Meeting, or how APHA can support school health issues on a larger scale. Also let us know about exemplary programs, issues and interesting highlights related to your work in school health education. We would like to include them in the SHES Newsletter.
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I would like to welcome Eric Buhi as a new councilor to the SHES Section. Eric will be replacing Rachel Peters who has been invaluable to the Section by organizing both our booth and also the social we co-sponsor with PHEHP. Carl Hanson was elected to represent SHES on the APHA Governing Council along with our other representation John Moore. Carl replaces Larry Olsen on Governing Council but Larry will now become SHES chair-elect. Thank you to everyone who has served SHES and those who have been newly elected.
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While in Washington, D.C. for the APHA Annual Meeting, please attend the SHES social on Monday, Nov. 5 from 6:30-8:00 (session number 347). The social is co-sponsored by SHES and PHEHP (Public Health Education and Health Promotion Section). This is always a fun and well attended event. It is also a fun way to meet SHES leadership, see old friends and make some new ones. Hope to see you there. See the Annual Meeting Program Guide for location.
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