Healthcare

  • At a time of widespread budget constraints, many healthcare-providing institutions--including public schools--are cutting back on the number of nurses and other healthcare professionals they employ. Although a large body of research has established that inadequate staffing levels result in negative patient outcomes, the link between workplace conditions and the quality of care has yet to make it into many policy discussions.

    Far more work is needed in this area, especially in regard to the impact on children's health and wellbeing. The Institute sponsors model pilot projects, discussions and research aimed at improving the quality of patient care in hospital settings and exploring the critical role of school nurses in student outcomes. Thus far, the Institute has conducted two programs in this area, one a pilot project on the impact that improved nurse-management collaboration can have on improved patient care, and the other a study to explore the feasibility of conducting broader studies on the impact of school nurses on students’ health and academic success.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Feasibility of School Nurse Data Collection

    In 2015, the Institute published a pilot study which focused on the feasibiity of measuring school nurse impacts on student health and achievement.  The underlying assumption of this study is that, to benefit from education and instruction in school, children must be healthy and ready to learn.  School nurse positions are often cut as schools struggle with decreased state funding and the lower property tax revenues that resulted from the 2008 recession. Although there are studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of school nursing on a wide range of child health and education outcomes, significantly more research and statistical data supporting school nurse practice outcomes is needed.

  • Patient Care Collaboration Project

    In 2011, with support from the Albert Shanker Institute and the Foundation for St. Francis and Franklin, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP) and the management of St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, collaborated on a joint project designed to improve patient care and patient satisfaction, focusing on the Emergency Department.

  • The Contrast of Title IX’s Anniversary Amidst SCOTUS Rulings

    Along with much of the country, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX this month. Title IX states: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

    I celebrated because I have had the chance to see the vital role Title IX played in my opportunities, the opportunities of my students, and most recently my own children. I was old enough to see my sister* have different and limited experiences from the boys in her grade school. By the time she was in junior high and in high school she got to be a part of emerging, equal athletic programs thanks to Title IX. Five years later, I was the beneficiary of those pioneers when I joined more developed tennis and basketball programs. I became a teacher and got to coach middle school girls in three different sports. I got to see my daughter* choose hockey and la crosse as her preferred extracurricular activities. I have loved seeing legendary tennis star Billie Jean King, powerhouse programs like the Minnesota Lynx, the WNBA (turning 25! #thanksTitleIX), and others publicly celebrating Title IX this month.

    I am grateful for the opportunities and quality of life Title IX has offered all of us.

    Paradoxically, last week the Supreme Court of the United States chipped away at the separation of church and state that I grew up being taught. The separation of church and state protected my religion from state interference and my government from religious interference. The Carson V. Makin decision both undermines our public schools by syphoning public money away from them to pay for religious education, and it threatens religious institutions by making them vulnerable to state interference. Public schools adhere to the non-discrimination statutes and expectations every student deserves; that guarantee is not automatic for religious schools. As Albert Shanker Institute and American Federation of Teachers president, Randi Weingarten said, “With public funding comes public accountability. It is wrong to force taxpayers to fund a school that discriminates against our most vulnerable students when the school is supposed to substitute for public education.”

  • School Nurses: We Have Been Here All Along

    In honor of National School Nurse Day, guest author Dr. Thomas Stinson, a school nurse and AFT member, talks about the vital role of school nurses which has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    How many people actually know what school nurses do? Probably not many. This is undoubtedly why, as National School Nurse Day approached, one of my mentors asked if I was willing to write a blog. As a practicing school nurse in an urban public school since November of 1997, I thought this was a great opportunity to share my perspective on the important role school nurses play within society which has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • In Memoriam: Eugenia Kemble

    It is with great sorrow that we report the death of Eugenia Kemble, the founding executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute, after a long battle with fallopian tube cancer. “Genie” Kemble helped to conceive of and launch the institute in 1998, with the support of the late Sandy Feldman, then president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Endowed by the AFT and named in honor of the AFT’s iconic former president, the Albert Shanker Institute was established as a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research reports and fostering candid exchanges on policy options related to the issues of public education, labor, and democracy.

    A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the University of Manila, Genie entered the teacher union movement as part of a cohort of young Socialist Party activists who were close to Bayard Rustin, the organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, and deeply involved in the civil rights struggle. She began her career in 1967 as a reporter for the newspaper of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the AFT’s New York City local, and became a top aide to then UFT president Albert Shanker. She was a first-hand witness to the turbulent era during which Shanker served as UFT president, including the UFT strike for More Effective Schools in 1967, the harrowing Ocean Hill Brownsville strike over teachers’ due process rights in 1968, the remarkable UFT election victory to represent paraprofessionals in 1969, and the masterful bailout of a faltering New York City government through the loan of teacher pension funds in the mid-1970s.

  • Is The Motherhood Penalty Real? The Evidence From Poland

    It has long been assumed that the residual gap in earnings between men and women (after controlling for productivity characteristics, occupation and industry segregation, and union membership status) is due to gender discrimination. A growing body of evidence, however, suggests that it may also reflect the effect of having children.

    According to this research, employed mothers now account for most of the gender gap in wages (Glass 2004). In the U.S., controlling for work experience, hourly wages of mothers are approximately four percent lower for each child they have, compared to the wages of non-mothers (Budig and England, 2001). The magnitude of these family effects differs across countries, but, in general, men accrue modest earnings premiums for fatherhood, whereas women incur significant earnings penalties for motherhood (Waldfogel, 1998; Harkness and Waldfogel, 2003; Sigle-Rushton and Waldfogel, 2007; Budig and Hodges, 2010; Hodges and Budig, 2010; Smith Koslowski, 2011).

    The size of the penalty seems also to vary by whether women and men are toward the top or bottom of the employment hierarchies of skills and wages, and it also varies across countries (England et al. 2014; Cooke 2014). The findings in this area are sometimes inconsistent, however, and suggest that there is a need to include a combination of skills and wages (England et al. 2014) and to choose carefully measures of job interruptions (Staff and Mortimer, 2012).

  • To Seek Common Ground On Life's Big Questions, We Need Science Literacy

    Our guest author today is Jonathan Garlick, Director of the Division of Cancer Biology and Tissue Engineering at the School of Dental Medicine at Tufts University. This article was originally published on The Conversation.

    Science isn’t important only to scientists or those who profess an interest in it. Whether you find fascinating every new discovery reported or you stopped taking science in school as soon as you could, a base level understanding is crucial for modern citizens to ground their engagement in the national conversation about science-related issues.

    We need to look no further than the Ebola crisis to appreciate the importance of science literacy. A recently elected senator has linked sealing the US-Mexican border with keeping Ebola out of the US, even though the disease is nonexistent in Mexico. Four out of 10 Americans believe there will be a large scale Ebola epidemic here, even though there have been just four cases in the US and only one fatality. Flu, on the other hand, which killed over 100 children here last winter, barely registers in the public consciousness.

    Increasingly we must grapple with highly-charged and politicized science-based issues ranging from infectious diseases and human cloning to reproductive choices and climate change. Yet many – perhaps even the majority – of Americans aren’t sufficiently scientifically literate to make sense of these complicated issues. For instance, on one recent survey of public attitudes and understanding of science and technology, Americans barely got a passing grade, answering only 5.8 out of 9 factual knowledge questions correctly.

  • Performance Measurement In Healthcare And Education

    A recent story in the New York Times reports that, according to an Obama Administration-commissioned panel, the measures being used to evaluate the performance of healthcare providers are unfairly penalizing those that serve larger proportions of disadvantaged patients (thanks to Mike Petrilli for sending me the article). For example, if you’re grading hospitals based on simple, unadjusted re-admittance rates, it might appear as if hospitals serving high poverty populations are doing worse -- even if the quality of their service is excellent -- since readmissions are more likely for patients who can’t afford medication, or aren’t able to take off from work, or don’t have home support systems.

    The panel recommended adjusting the performance measures, which, for instance, are used for Medicare reimbursement, using variables such as patient income and education, as this would provide a more fair accountability system – one that does not penalize healthcare institutions and their personnel for factors that are out of their control.

    There are of course very strong, very obvious parallels here to education accountability policy, in which schools are judged in part based on raw proficiency rates that make no attempt to account for differences in the populations of students in different schools. The comparison also reveals an important feature of formal accountability systems in other policy fields.

  • How Many Schools Don't Have Nurses?

    In 2006, the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) commissioned the largest and, to my knowledge, most recent national survey on the availability of nursing services in U.S. public schools. It was administered to a sample of over 1,000 schools in all 50 states and D.C.

    The primary purpose was to gather basic information on the health staff in these schools, as well as a few core characteristics, such as school size and student demographics.

    I must confess that I was a little surprised by the results. Here is the distribution of schools by nursing availability, summarized very briefly (these proportions vary by school size, type and other characteristics):

  • Bahraini Repression Against Teachers And Health Care Workers

    The Kingdom of Bahrain, a small island nation in the Persian Gulf, is a perfect political stew, situated as it is at the confluence of political, religious, economic and international tensions simmering in the Persian Gulf.  A majority Shi’a Muslim country ruled for hundreds of years by Sunni tribal chieftains with family ties to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is a dictatorship whose people have regularly demanded political reform and seen their aspirations crushed.

    Today, with strong support from the oil-rich Saudis, the Kingdom’s hard-line Al-Khalifa regime enjoys absolute powers, although the day-to-day political reality is often complex.

    Bahrain is also the home of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which patrols those volatile waters, largely to keep an eye on Iran. The U.S. considers the port a critical element of its military posture in the Gulf. This consideration drives U.S. policy toward Bahrain. The centuries-old Bahraini-Saudi connection has, predictably, deterred the U.S. and other democratic countries from applying significant pressure to the kingdoms’ rulers. Stability is the byword.

  • The Data Are In: Experiments In Policy Are Worth It

    Our guest author today is David Dunning, professor of psychology at Cornell University, and a fellow of both the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association. 

    When I was a younger academic, I often taught a class on research methods in the behavioral sciences. On the first day of that class, I took as my mission to teach students only one thing—that conducting research in the behavioral sciences ages a person. I meant that in two ways. First, conducting research is humbling and frustrating. I cannot count the number of pet ideas I have had through the years, all of them beloved, that have gone to die in the laboratory at the hands of data unwilling to verify them.

    But, second, there is another, more positive way in which research ages a person. At times, data come back and verify a cherished idea, or even reveal a more provocative or valuable one that no one has never expected. It is a heady experience in those moments for the researcher to know something that perhaps no one else knows, to be wiser—more aged if you will—in a small corner of the human experience that he or she cares about deeply.