National Coalition Position Statement
The National Coalition for Healthier Schools provides a forum for education, health, labor, parent, environment, and building sciences organizations and is committed to collaborative efforts to build and to advance the platform for environmental health at school.
Each school day, 54 million children and 6 million adults that's 20% of the total U.S. population - spend their workdays inside school buildings. Unfortunately, too many of our nation's 120,000 public and private K-12 schools are "unhealthy" buildings that can harm their health and hinder learning. Today, clear and convincing research shows that improving specific factors such as school indoor environmental quality improves attendance, academic performance, and productivity.
Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental hazards because they're smaller, have developing organs, and breathe more air per pound of body weight. They cannot identify hazards. Adverse exposures and injuries during childhood may have a lifetime impact.
School factors affecting health
Many school environmental factors can affect the health of children and employees. Too many schools are sited near industrial plants or toxic waste sites; some are sited on abandoned landfills. Many school facilities are poorly maintained. Schools are more densely occupied and more intensively used than office buildings, magnifying problems. Thousands of schools are severely overcrowded, which compromises ventilation systems, acoustics, food service, recess, and sanitation and lavatories. Children also spend extra hours in vehicles or buses when their schools are beyond safe walking and biking distances.
The U.S. EPA has estimated that up to half of all schools have problems with indoor environmental quality. Children and staff are affected by:
Results of unhealthy schools
School environmental problems contribute to:
An estimated 1 in 8 U.S. school-aged children has asthma, resulting in an estimated 15 million missed school days annually (CDC). Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from chronic illness. Asthma is also a leading job-related disease of teachers and custodians.
At a time when this nation is committed to raising academic performance and honoring each child's potential, we have a moral obligation to protect and accommodate children who already have health and learning problems, and to reduce the risks to other children and personnel. To protect child and employee health, improve education, and create healthier communities, we believe all schools should:
A powerful array of groups support new policies and actions to ensure all schools are environmentally safe and healthy, including parents, unions, educators, health and environment groups, and advocates for the 7 million students in special education programs.
We support and ask that elected and appointed officials:
State and Local Policy
This message sponsored by:
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; Alliance for Healthy Homes; American Lung Association; American Public Health Association; Apollo Alliance; Beyond Pesticides; Children's Environmental Health Network; Healthy Children-Healthy World; Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools; Environmental Defense; Funders Forum on Environment and Education; Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics (MA); Healthy Schools Network; Improving Kids Environment (IN); Institute for Children's Environmental, Health, Learning Disabilities Association of America; Marin Golden Gate Learning Disabilities Association (CA); Massachusetts Healthy Schools Network; National Center for Environmental Health Strategies; National Education Association; National Education Association/Health Information Network; National Environmental Education and Training Foundation; National PTA; Natural Resources Defense Council; New Jersey Work Environment Council; New Jersey Environmental Federation; Oregon Environmental Council; Physicians for Social Responsibility; Public Education Network; Twentyfirst Century Schools Fund (DC); State of Washington Healthy Schools Roundtable; West Harlem Environmental Action; and League of Conservation Voters, Washington, DC; National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities; National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners; and hundreds more.
The ad hoc Coalition, coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, Inc., and engaging more than 160 organizations nationwide, provides "the forum and platform" for healthy school environments, with regular networking opportunities, meetings, and joint actions, including celebrating National Healthy Schools Day with 36 events in 20 states in 2007.
Connecticut Foundation for Environmentally Safe Schools© 2003-2012.
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