HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability


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


More and more frequently these days public school teachers and administrators are withholding recess to punish student misbehavior. And parents have begun to protest the practice. But one Texas school is taking a different approach, reports OffGridQuest.com. Eagle Mountain Elementary in Fort Worth has been giving students two 15-minute recess breaks every morning and two 15-minute breaks every afternoon to go play outside.


Most of us have experienced a broken heart. But not as many of us have had to go through the pain of Broken Heart Syndrome. According to member station KERA, this potentially serious physical condition was first described 15 years ago. Broken Heart Syndrome is when anxiety badly weakens the heart, and it can make you just as sick as a heart attack.

Oxfam America

From Harvest Public Media:

In the first nine months of 2015, workers in meat-packing plants owned by Tyson Foods averaged at least one amputation a month. 

That report was gleaned from a Freedom of Information Act request by Celeste Monforton, a George Washington University occupational health professor.

Danny Suarez / Texas Observer

Texas prisons are filling up with the elderly and the sick. And it’s costing the state a fortune, according to a new in-depth story by The Texas Observer. There are roughly 150,000 inmates in Texas. And more than one in six of those are over the age of 50. These are the most expensive prisoners to keep locked up. Medical and end-of-life expenses add up to some $30,000 for these elderly inmates. In some jurisdictions, housing these older prisoners can cost taxpayers as much as $68,000 per person.

Southwest Kansas hospitals are experiencing a blood shortage, reports The Garden City Telegram. Last month, blood donations expired at two area hospital laboratories, and another facility did not have a full stock of blood last week. The scarcity has largely been caused by recent inclement weather in the area. Kansas health officials are urging residents to give blood.

Harvard Political Review

When it comes to public school coverage by the mainstream media, rural schools get the short end of the stick. David Gutierrez recently wrote about the problem for Harvard Political Review, explaining: “This disparity in media coverage is understandable. The crumbling infrastructure of cities, the poverty and segregation faced by inner-city students, and the presence of a school-to-prison pipeline are all serious problems that demand reforms. But . . .

Tulsa World

A rural school district in Oklahoma has posted some signs on its campus that are drawing attention, according to The Rural Blog. The fours signs read: “Please be aware that certain staff members at Okay Public Schools can be legally armed and may use whatever force is necessary to protect our students.” 

Ben Bohall / NET News

NET Nebraska recently delved into what it means to be a homeless student in Nebraska. When most of us hear “homeless,” the word conjures certain images in our minds. But Bryan Seck’s job as homeless outreach specialist for Lincoln Public Schools is to change that perception. “Family homelessness is not folks on the street,” Seck explains. “Family homelessness is working class people and something bad has happened to them and they don’t have savings.” 

FHSU Gets More Than $700K Federal Grant for Ag Program

Feb 14, 2016
Fort Hays State University

HAYS – Fort Hay State University has been awarded a grant of more than $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop curricula focused on the use of small unmanned aerial systems in precision agriculture, the university announced in February.

The program, under development by FHSU, is expected to enhance and improve the technical and analytical skill sets of future farm managers, technicians and crop advisors. The grant is part of a $4 million award to Non-Land Grant Colleges and Universities, according to a press release.


When it comes to supporting public schools, all 50 states are doing a bad job, according to a new study. A report card was issued this week by the Network for Public Education, says The Washington Post. Some states fared better than others, though no state scored above a C grade.


Colorado ranks among the best states in the nation when it comes to education, a booming economy, and the well-being of its residents. But there’s another factor where Colorado rates above average, and this one isn’t something to be proud of. Deaths from drug overdoses in Colorado are above national rates, reports Colorado Public Radio. And some counties are among the nation’s highest.

Prowers Journal

The Veteran’s Health Administration is enhancing eastern Colorado’s Veteran’s Choice Program, reports The Prowers Journal. The new eligibility changes will address excessive burdens veterans may face in order to receive VA care. The changes will impact clinics located in Lamar, La Junta, Burlington and Salida.

Issue Brief: E-Cigarettes and Their Use in the U.S. and Kansas

Feb 10, 2016
Win McNamee / Getty Images

The past few years have seen an aggressive campaign to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas. And now those cuts have resulted in a steep drop in contraception and a 27% increase in births, reports The Guardian. The information comes from a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Marketplace Enrollment Climbs in Kansas, Missouri

Feb 9, 2016
US Department of Health and Human Services

From the Kansas Health Institute:

The enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace closed Monday night, with higher enrollment than last year in Kansas and Missouri.

Jen Reel / Texas Observer

Pregnant women are often treated terribly while in Texas jails, according to a revealing new story in The Texas Observer. Since 1980, the number of incarcerated women in the U.S. has quadrupled. But jails and prisons have often neglected the needs of pregnant inmates. 300 to 500 pregnant women are booked into Texas county jails each month. Dozens gave birth while in custody last year.


Another rural hospital has closed, this time in western Oklahoma, reports The Times Record. Sayre Memorial Hospital in Sayre, Oklahoma, abruptly shut its doors on Monday. The facility blamed “continual financial strain.” Oklahoma’s GOP leaders have refused to expand Medicaid, leading to a drop in income for many hospitals across the state.

Melissa del Bosque / Texas Observer

According to The Texas Observer, more than 1 million poor Texas adults will remain without insurance if Texas doesn’t expand Medicaid, experts say. According to a new report, uninsured Texans say cost is the main reason they do not have insurance. Researchers found that 70 percent of uninsured Texans find health insurance too expensive.

Tom Dart / The Guardian

The World Health Organization recently warned that the Zika virus is spreading “explosively” through the Americas. Some experts estimate there could be as many as four million infections across the two continents over the next year, reports The Guardian. And Texas is perfectly situated to allow the virus to flourish.

Center for Public Policy Priorities

In Texas the cost of the GED test has tripled in some areas, reports The Texas Observer. To combat the rising test price, Board of Education members approved two new testing options for Texans seeking their state high school equivalency certificates.

LM Otero / AP photo

Nearly three years ago in the Central Texas town of West a fertilizer plant exploded. Fifteen died and more than 260 others were injured in the explosion. The proximity of the plant to homes and schools contributed to the widespread damage and death caused by the blast. Now, according to The New York Times, a lack of regulation is putting other communities at risk of disaster.

The New York Times

  The New York Times recently mapped America’s uninsured. And when you view the map as a whole, clear regional patterns are emerging about who has health insurance in America and who still doesn’t. The remaining uninsured are primarily in the South and the Southwest. They tend to be poor people who live in Republican-leaning states. Texas and Oklahoma are particularly dark on the map, showing large rates of uninsured.


The Texas A&M University system dispatched representatives to Canyon, Texas, last week to announce their support for a new veterinary school. A&M plans to open a branch of their vet school on the campus of West Texas A&M, reports KFDA.

American Life League / Flickr Creative Commons

Houston found itself at the center of a political firestorm this week, when a grand jury investigating wrongdoing against Planned Parenthood instead indicted two abortion opponents.

Sean Steffen / amarillo.com

The number of qualified applicants at the Amarillo Police Department is dwindling each year, reports Amarillo.com. Changing societal attitudes toward marijuana and public furor over police-involved shootings are making it harder for APD to attract younger officers.

James M. Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Cremations are on the rise in southwest Kansas, reports the Garden City Telegram. In fact, some funeral home directors expect cremation may become the norm rather than the exception over the next 10 years.

Wikimedia Commons

Another year brings another attempt to get evolution out of the classroom in Oklahoma, reports Slate’s education blog. State Sen. Josh Brecheen has been working tirelessly to promote creationism. Every year since his election in 2010, Brecheen has authored legislation aimed at skirting nearly three decades of court decisions that prohibit teaching creationism in public schools.


Oklahoma’s mental health system is fractured and underfunded. The system is “suffocating,” according to a new in-depth NewsOK report. Oklahoma has never made a sustained, significant investment in its mental health system. To quote the NewsOK story, “The majority of low-income, uninsured Oklahomans with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders who need help do not get it.”


A Kansas grain cooperative has been fined by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing safety standards.