St. Louis on the Air
4:19 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Health Issues Root Cause Of Many Dropouts, St. Louis Study Says

Second Brief: For the Sake of All

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The second of five briefs from a multi-disciplinary study on African-American health in St. Louis and St. Louis County was released last week. It details how health issues lead African American high schoolers in the region to drop out of school.

The study, called For the Sake of All, is a partnership between researchers in multiple departments of Washington University and Saint Louis University.

Joining us today to discuss the second brief were the director of research and medical services at the St. Louis County Department of Health, Dr. Jade James, and Washington University researchers Dr. William Tate and Dr. Jason Purnell. Tate is the chair of the department of education and Purnell is a professor in the Brown School of Social Work. Tate and Purnell were also guests on the St. Louis on the Air discussion of the first For the Sake of All brief.

A discussion about how the health of children and youth influences education and high school achievement.

The second brief outlines three pathways to dropping out of school, all connected with health. First, childhood illnesses can lead to poor school attendance, which in turn can lead to low grades. Second, mental health problems can cause behavior problems in school, which can lead to poor school performance. The third pathway leads to health in the opposite direction: poor school performance can lead to risky behavior such as drug use and unprotected sex, which in turn can lead to health issues.

The brief is intended to influence policy. As such, it gives suggested solutions.

"We try to look at indigenous solutions," said William Tate. He wrote the brief. "We think all high poverty schools should have a health coordinator...there should be coordinated activities around health at the schools."

Tate pointed to Roosevelt High School as an example of a local school that is coordinating health activities. It has a health clinic located on the school campus.

St. Louis Public Radio's Erin Williams also did a story on this brief.

St. Louis on the Air provides discussion about issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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