Will having a dentist at school keep disadvantaged students on track?
Community schools try offering dental, health care and other services
Struggling schools and students in disadvantaged communities are at ground zero as high school graduation and college completion rates become a growing national priority.
But what about the economic, family, medical, and emotional needs that interfere with a student’s learning each and every day in underserved urban and rural communities?
For example, dental problems alone keep students in California out of school an estimated 874,000 days a year, costing schools about $29.7 million in lost attendance based-funding, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy’s 2007 California Health Interview Survey
A traditional school can’t do much about dental health. However, a “community school” with adequate resources can work wonders.
And it’s not just dental health. Community schools can identify and bring together resources to meet needs around primary health care, emotional and behavioral health, and even family trauma that inhibit learning.
A community school is more than a learning institution: It is a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources integrating academics, health and social services, youth, family and community engagement. This focus leads to improved student learning, stronger families, and healthier communities. And a new report from Child Trends documents the positive impact that this kind of integrated-service approach has on academics, attendance and high school dropout rates.
Many community schools offer curricula that emphasize real-world learning and community problem-solving. They become centers of the community and when done right, are open to everyone — all day, every day, evenings and weekends. They maximize existing and oftentimes untapped resources in a community to improve efficiencies in the process of schooling.
Here in New Mexico, state policymakers are getting it. After seeing the positive results in our Elev8 community schools – which are part of a national community school effort focused on middle grades – the legislature last year passed the Community Schools Act and the governor signed it.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, will encourage struggling schools to adopt the community school approach and sets new standards for how such schools operate, in partnership with community organizations. As a result, we expect Will having a dentist at school keep disadvantaged students on track? | Hechinger Report: