Friday, September 30, 2005

No school nurses left behind --

Here is an interesting article about some side effects of NCLB:

From Salon, September 29, By Laurie Udesky

School nurses -- once available every day in most public schools -- have virtually disappeared as a full-time presence in many schools around the country. At the same time, chronic illnesses among schoolchildren have mushroomed. Although there are no precise figures, experts say anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of schoolchildren suffer a chronic health condition, many of which require treatment during the school day. In West Virginia schools, for example, more than 16,000 children required healthcare plans in 2002, more than double the number six years earlier. These illnesses include life-threatening asthma and food allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders and cancers as well as mental health problems like severe depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It's well-known that the academic testing demands of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind program has forced many already financially strapped school districts to make deep cuts in music, art and physical education. There's been little outcry over the impact the legislation has had on school nursing -- perhaps because few parents realize that a school nurse may be at their child's school as little as once a week, if at all...

...Sanfilippo's worries are well grounded. Mistakes are more than three times as likely to occur when an unlicensed person and not a nurse is responsible, according to a 2000 University of Iowa survey, whose results were reported in the Journal of School Health. Unfortunately, the vast majority of school employees handing out medications have no medical background, the report continued. The randomized national survey of 649 school nurses in 49 states showed that more than 75 percent of school nurses had to delegate medication administration to school staff lacking medical training, referred to as "an unlicensed assistive personnel..."

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