HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

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The Oklahoma Education Department has released a new plan to address the ongoing woes of the state’s education system, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The goals of the plan include reducing the state’s recent reliance on emergency certified teachers and raising the state’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent. The plan will also try to ease hunger in schools, and force underfunded public schools that have gone to a four-day school week to fix their calendars.

The American Humanist Association on Wednesday sued Kansas prison officials, alleging the Topeka Correctional Facility promotes Christianity in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, claims the prison displays prayers and messages on prison bulletin boards, has erected an eight-foot cross in one of its multi-purpose rooms and often broadcasts movies with Christian themes on inmates’ televisions.

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A new law will allow Texas school districts to store and distribute leftover food from the cafeteria.

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After the Affordable Care Act became law, insurance rates in America dipped to historic lows. But those uninsured rates are on the rise again, thanks to uncertainty in the insurance markets. And uninsured rates can vary wildly across states.

The personal finance website Wallethub recently set out to find which states had the lowest rates of uninsured citizens.

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Low pay is being blamed for a teacher shortage in parts of rural Colorado.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, teachers’ salaries in rural Colorado can be over $20,000 lower than those in urban areas.

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The rising population of high school students in the Lone Star State has led the University of Texas in Austin to further restrict its admission policy.

As The Dallas Morning News reports, students hoping for automatic admission to UT-Austin will now need to be in the top 6 percent of their graduating class.

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Opiates continue to ravage rural communities in Oklahoma, and the question of how to combat the problem is expected to dominate the 2018 legislative session.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, the state is doing some things right, but in other areas the response to the drug epidemic has lagged behind other states. Overdoses from methamphetamine and heroin have increased in recent years. In fact, last year, a record 899 Oklahomans died from drug overdoses.

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Back in 1983, a unique law was passed requiring high school principals in Texas to register eligible students to vote. Thirty-four years later, few principals are complying with the law. And, as The Texas Tribune reports, voter registration is at a historic low in the Lone Star State.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos touted the importance of making higher education accessible Thursday while on a whirlwind tour of vocational classrooms at Johnson County Community College.

The highly orchestrated two-hour visit included stops to view spaces used for teaching automotive, electrical, welding, nursing and culinary programs.

The stop was part of a six-state tour in which DeVos has traveled to public and private schools, highlighting themes ranging from services for children with autism to Native American education.

Low-income Kansans are less likely to have health insurance than their counterparts in other states, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kansas is setting aspirations for much higher math and reading competency among the class of 2030 — today’s kindergartners — in a long-term accountability plan for its public schools.

Kansas officials submitted the accountability blueprint Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Education. It does not include language promoting controversial school choice concepts that Gov. Sam Brownback’s office advocated for, according to staff at the state education department.

Kansas continues to face a teacher shortage, with schools reporting 440 vacancies this school year.

Those empty jobs worry educators because they force schools into workarounds, such as larger class sizes or long-term substitutes. They can also reduce class offerings and lessen support for special-education students.

Janet Waugh represents Kansas City, Kansas on the State Board of Education. She calls the situation heart breaking.

Kansas is one of several states experiencing an outbreak of bacterial infections linked to puppies sold at Petland stores. So far, five cases in Kansas have been reported.

The uninsured rates in Kansas and Missouri continue to drop, but not as fast as those in states that have expanded their Medicaid programs.

New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the uninsured rate in Kansas dropped to 8.7 percent in 2016 from 9.1 percent the year before. That is not a statistically significant change.

Approximately 249,000 Kansans lacked health coverage in 2016, down from about 261,000 the previous year.

The uninsured rate in Missouri declined to 8.9 percent from 9.8 percent the previous year.

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Long distances, rugged topography and scattered population centers are among several barriers to providing broadband Internet service to Colorado’s rural areas.

As The Denver Post reports, the state’s broadband map shows vast stretches of the state – especially on the Eastern Plains and across the mountains – with slow to no internet service.

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More than half of U.S. rural counties have no hospital where women can give birth, according to MinnPost.com.

According to a new study by the University of Minnesota, over the past decade, the number of U.S. rural counties without obstetric units increased by 50 percent.

This means that rural women are at greater risk of birth-related complications than previously realized.

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It’s no secret that Oklahoma is facing as major teacher crisis. But, as Oklahoma Watch reports, within that larger crisis is another problem. The state suffers from an increasingly dwindling pool of special education teachers.

The results of the state's latest ACT test shows the number of Kansas students who are college-ready is on the decline.

Texas Looks To Improve Troubled Foster Care System

Sep 7, 2017
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A number of laws took effect earlier this month meant to improve Texas’s child welfare system.

As KUT reports, the state’s foster care system was deemed unconstitutional and “broken” by a U.S. District Judge in Dec. 2015, following several reports about Texas kids dying from neglect and abuse while in foster care.

That led to a series of bills aimed at overhauling the system, including Senate Bill 11, which establishes a model that increasingly privatizes the foster care system.

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Almost 50 million rural Americans lack access to sufficient dental care.

As Mother Jones reports, in large swaths of the country it can be difficult to make a dental appointment even if you have private insurance. And for Americans who rely on Medicaid, it can be practically impossible to find dental care in small towns. Fewer than half of the dentists in the United States accept Medicaid, and many of those who do are in the cities.

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West Texas A&M University has selected a site for its new football stadium, reports Amarillo.com.

As university president Walter Wendler announced last week, the new stadium will be located on Russell Long Boulevard in Canyon, on the north side of the campus near the other athletic facilities.

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The percentage of Oklahomans who smoke is lower than ever before, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.

As KFOR reports, in 2015 a little over 22 percent of Oklahoma residents smoked tobacco. As of last year, the rate had fallen to 19.6 percent.

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Oklahoma’s woes are now so dire that the state is making news in the United Kingdom. Last week, the British newspaper The Guardian published an article about Oklahoma, asking the question “Can anyone fix this failing state?”

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Kansas leaders are trying to get ahead of the opioid crisis in the Sunflower State before it grows as bad as it has in other parts of the country.

As The Hays Daily News reports, last week the Kansas Health Institute held a symposium on the issue. One overarching theme dominated the event: The opioid crisis is coming soon to Kansas.

Biosecurity Research Institute provides upper-level training for students working with transboundary animal diseases Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Program fellows Fellows in the transboundary animal diseases training program don scrubs and protective outerwear in a teaching laboratory at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University.

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Like most of the country, Oklahoma is seeing a drop in youth tackle football participation. ESPN has reported that in the six years from 2009 to 2015, national participation dropped from around 4 million players down to about 3.2 million.

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Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado, but it’s unclear if legalization of the drug is to blame.

As The Denver Post reports, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has more than doubled since 2013, according to federal and state data.

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It might come as a surprise, but Kansas drivers are rude – almost as rude as New York drivers.  

As The Wichita Eagle reports, normally known as a friendly state, Kansas ranked as the 12th rudest state in the country, according to a survey from Kars4Kids, which says “Kansas drivers will let you merge in ahead of them, but make sure to speed up as soon as they do because they don’t like slow drivers.”

Kansas received the worst scores in the nation for aggressive responses to slow driving with a D+.

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Crews from the Texas Panhandle have been doing their part to help with disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

The Panhandle Red Cross has been on standby since Friday, and the humanitarian organization is seeking donations to help victims of the storm.

Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is also taking donations.

And Catholic Charities USA has set up a website devoted to Harvey relief.

smarterlunchrooms.org

A critique of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program aimed at getting students to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables suggests the benefits of the program have been exaggerated.

As The Denver Post reports, the critique, published on the academic platform PeerJ, alleges that researchers have exaggerated the benefits of the USDA’s Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which has been adopted by over 30,000 U.S. schools since 2010.

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