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Rural Poor & Smoking

This article in today's Washington Post illustrates how money that exists to support smoking-cessation programs in rural areas is being diverted by state governments into other funding priorities, while tobacco companies target rural and poor populations. Levels of smoking and all its health problems remain disproportionately high for the rural poor. As reflected in the article, smoking is a response to multiple layers of life stress, which ironically often include chronic health problems. In fact, chronic stress is at the root of many of the issues that impact children's ability to learn in school - crime, drug abuse, mental illness, poverty, hunger, unsafe neighborhoods, etc. Let's make su

RSA Board Member on Task Force

Last year Governor Cuomo commissioned the Heroin and Opioid Task Force to report on the state of this issue in New York. This task force included RSA Board Member Tom O'Brien, Roxbury Schools Superintendent. The resulting report, Combatting the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic, outlines a very thorough study of the issue, with 25 recommendations in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement. We can see that the impacts on our school children mirror those of children whose parents have abandoned them in some way - death, foster care, debilitating illness or addiction. They have difficulty forming trusting relationships, have a shortened or absent sense of future and hope, and oft

ACA Provides Important Access for Rural Families

When I was doing community social work, I was working with an elementary school that was furious with a mom who would often keep all 3 of her children home from school. I met with the family to see how I could help. Turns out, along with the usual frequent illnesses that are typical of Kindergartners and first graders as their bodies acclimate to the universe of new germs, one of her children was suspected as having several allergies, and she herself had some health issues. She had no control over when the doctor's office would have openings, and often she or the children were scheduled in the afternoons. She had no one safe she trusted to get the kids off the bus in the afternoons, and she

RSANY supports NYSSBA Mental Health Summit

The New York State School Board Association (NYSSBA) held a summit on May 20 entitled “Your Role in Addressing the Growing Mental Health Crisis Among Students,” featuring the Rural Schools Association, among others. The day consisted of morning and afternoon sessions. Each began with an address from an expert in the field, followed by concurrent breakout discussions facilitated by additional experts. Dr. Katharine H. Briar-Lawson, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the School of Social Welfare at SUNY Albany gave the morning address connecting the research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with the current mental health trends among students in NY’s public schools. Discussions following th

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