Catching a snippet of President Obama’s news conference last night reminded me of how important and far-reaching access to health care really is. Teaching “At Risk” students that tend not to get consistent health care I see the impact it makes on their education. Students that don’t see well for example. We do our best to notice them and refer them to the nurse, but even if she notes poor eyesight and she sends a note AND calls the parents they often follow through slowly because of lack of money and knowledge of who to contact. Same with the condition of many of my students’ teeth and staying on any medications that a doctor prescribes … even basic nutrition and being encouraged to be active and go out and play and “.. let’s sign you up for sports or dance or music lessons.” It not just the money. It’s about families that don’t have experience keeping track of these things because they have no experience with them from when they were kids … no memories of mom on them to wear their glasses or eat the right things … you get the point.
We often get a local group to provide glasses for a student for example, but often within days the glasses are lost or broken or constantly forgotten at home. When the parents have no experience of keeping track of these items (nor did their parents or grandparents) … following through on meds, getting kids to the dentist regularly isn’t automatic … just having access doesn’t guarantee basic understanding of the value, importance, knowledge and organization involved in keeping up and keeping track of appointments, schedules and tricks to remember to take your glasses to school.
Most of us have had these things ingrained in us from an early age … but in families of poverty its another layer that insulates them from learning.
Learning is messy!