HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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The Oklahoma State Board of Education has released its 2016 Report Cards for all public schools in Oklahoma. As KFOR reports, things appear to be sliding downhill.

This year, more schools in Oklahoma received a grade of F than were given an A grade. All told, 213 schools were given an F. That’s 17 more schools than were given an A. Compare that with last year, when more schools received As than Fs.

Party City/Rural Blog

Halloween is one of the most fun holidays for rural kids, but it’s also one of the most dangerous.

According to the childhood safety research group Safe Kids Worldwide, twice as many pedestrian children are hit by passing cars on Halloween than on any other day.

And, as The Rural Blog notes, rural areas often lack sidewalks or adequate street lights, and that can make trick-or-treating a dicey—and even deadly—activity.

Laura Skelding / Houston Chronicle

Reports have come out over the past few months that Texas is denying services to public school students with special needs.

NBC News

The first flu case of the season has been reported in Kansas, and that means flu season is officially underway.

As KSN reports, health officials say the flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and those around you from the flu. Last season, almost a thousand deaths were reported in Kansas due to influenza and pneumonia, a serious complication of influenza.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Federal officials expect over one million more people to sign up for Obamacare in 2017, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. The feds estimate that almost 14 million people will sign up for coverage. That’s compared with fewer than 13 million this year.

As The Rural Blog notes, the agency estimated that “average monthly enrollment in 2017 is estimated at 11.4 million people, up from 10.5 million people in 2016.”

Rural Blog

Oklahoma is among the top ten in states with the most per capita gun violence, according to a new study by the Center for American Progress.

Shefali Luthra / Kaiser Health News

If you’re a low-income Texas woman, the state might now pay for you to have an IUD put in, reports The Texas Tribune.

Rural Blog

More than 80 percent of rural counties without a city of 10,000 or more people—lack psychiatrists, according to a new study.

These counties are called “non-core counties,” and they are in dire need of mental health care. Non-core counties average less than four psychiatrists for every 100,000 people. Compare that with more 17 psychiatrists per 100,000 in metropolitan areas.

James M. Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Last Friday Abe Hubert Elementary School in Garden City hosted its first Ag Day. As reported in The Garden City Telegram, the event had several activities based around a common theme: agriculture.

Rural Blog

When it comes to mental health and veterans, rural soldiers are less likely to receive help than their urban counterparts, reports The Rural Blog.

Ken Piorkowsky / Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, the Lone Star State concluded a record-breaking gap in executions, reports The Houston Press.

Before last Wednesday, the State of Texas had gone six months without putting anyone to death. That’s the longest stretch without an execution since 2008. Back then, a moratorium had been called while the U.S. Supreme Court considered the legality of lethal injections.

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

In many rural areas, maintaining mental health can sometimes come down to finding a ride.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, Transportation is often a barrier for rural dwellers seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.


Job pressures, low pay and lack of mobility force many teachers to quit soon after they begin. With that in mind, the personal finance website Wallethub set out to find which states are doing a good job of treating teachers with the respect they deserve.

Andrew Fysh / Creative Commons

The children's death rate in Kansas hit a record low in 2014, the last year for which data is available.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reports, Kansas had 410 child deaths in that year. That’s the lowest death rate in any year since the Kansas State Child Death Review Board began reviewing cases in 1994. Child abuse was responsible for 53 percent of the deaths.


Autumn is officially upon us, and that means it’s time for flu shots.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Huffington Post that a flu vaccine is still the best way to protect yourself from coming down with the virus.

Psychonaut / Wikimedia Commons

A Colorado group is doing its best to fight the scourge of a highly addictive drug popular in rural communities.

As KUSA reports, the Colorado Meth Project is spreading a message of hope, and they believe it’s working. And the numbers agree: between 2005 and 2015, Meth use in teenagers dropped by 40 percent. Kent MacLennan is executive director of the program. He says the project is still staying hot on the trail of making sure teens are aware of the dangers of the drug.

Marie De Jesus / Houston Chronicle

A Texas lawmaker thinks schools should be teaching students the proper actions to take in the event of a police stop, reports The Houston Chronicle.

Mike Groll / AP photo

Each US state has its own policies for what books are allowed in its prisons. But, according to quartz.com, Texas goes farther than most in censoring what inmates have access to.


Kansas highways are ranked third best in the nation, according to a new report released by the Reason Foundation.

The report judges states on overall highway performance and efficiency. The top-performing states in the overall rankings this year are rural states with limited traffic congestion. Kansas’s neighbor to the north, Nebraska, landed at number four on the list.

Brennan Linsley / AP photo

In November, Colorado voters will decide on Amendment 69, which would institute a statewide health care system in the Centennial State.

Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Last year, Texas announced that it would slash $350 million in Medicaid benefits to disabled children. In response, a group of concerned Texans filed a lawsuit seeking to block the cuts. But this week, The Texas Tribune reports, the Texas Supreme Court allowed the cuts to move forward.

The money was going toward speech, physical and occupational therapy providers and the families of children who receive those services.

Bret Levin / Flickr Creative Commons

Almost half of Colorado school districts are not complying with a state transparency law, reports The Colorado Independent.

The watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch has found that 43 percent of Colorado’s school districts are not complying with a law requiring school boards to post minutes of their meetings in a timely manner.

The law went into effect in June 2014. It says school boards must post minutes within 10 days of approving them.

Michael Flippo / Thinkstock

The United States Department of Agriculture is releasing up to five million dollars in grants to help create or strengthen farm-to-school programs, reports FarmFutures.com.

The competitive grants are part of a federal initiative further to increase foods from local farms and ranches in America’s school meals.

Sue Ogrocki / AP photo

Oklahoma has opened its first new abortion clinic in over forty years, reports Refinery29.

In fact, Gerald Ford was president the last time Oklahoma opened a new family planning clinic. The Trust Women South Wind Women's Center will provide many services to women, including abortions, Ob/Gyn care, family planning, adoption services, and emergency contraception.

Elizabeth Renstrom / TIME

Almost a third of older Americans simply aren’t moving enough, a recent TIME article reports.

According to a new study, 28 percent of people over the age 50 are too sedentary. In fact, more than half of baby boomers don’t do any exercise at all. That’s despite the unquestionable and widely known health benefits of exercise.

Creative Commons

Kansas recently came in seventh in the nation in the rate of obesity.

And a recent editorial in the Garden City Telegram took the Sunflower State to task for its unhealthy ways. In the last year, Kansas has risen from 13th to seventh in the rankings. Thirty-five percent of adults in Kansas are obese, up from 31 percent last year. Kentucky was the only other state to see its residents grow more obese.

The Washington post

The number of uninsured Americans has dropped to its lowest level since before the Great Recession, reports The Washington Post.

The gains in insured citizens came primarily among people buying individual policies, rather than getting health benefits through a job. This includes, but is not limited to, those obtaining insurance under the Affordable Care Act.


Wednesday will be an important day for Kansas public-school students, reports KSN.

In two days, the Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the system is inadequately funded. The court will decide whether the Legislature is providing enough money for Kansas public school kids to receive a suitable education. Kansas schools and teacher groups are watching the developments closely.

Harry Cabluck / AP photo

A controversial Texas textbook on the Mexican-American experience is drawing widespread criticism, reports CBS News, with some critics claiming the book is “dripping with racism.”

The textbook has been determined by a state committee to contain many mistakes. The state’s education board held a hearing on the book last week. About 100 people signed up to speak, and the hearing even drew a busload of protestors to Austin.

Texas Tribune

Almost 3,000 Texans died from drug-related overdoses two years ago, and many of these were related to prescription opioid use.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named prescription drug abuse as the fastest-growing drug problem in the country.