This guest post from Kelly Nelson, MPH, senior program manager at APHA’s Center for School, Health and Education explores the relationship between education and health equity and how you can join the conversation at APHA’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo.

smiling woman throwing graduation cap in airIt’s well-documented that American kids drop out of school before graduation with frequency. It’s also clear that on-time high school graduation is connected with students’ lifelong opportunity. People without a high school diploma suffer a wide range of negative social, economic, political, health and criminal justice outcomes that last generations.

In fact, many, if not most, of the social obstacles to high school completion including drug use, teen pregnancy, violence, hunger and poverty are also obstacles to health. Improving high school graduation is an important opportunity to improve public health and health equity.

APHA’s Center for School, Health and Education has supported over 600 professionals in schools, school-based health centers, health departments, and community agencies to work across silos and remove barriers to healthy outcomes and learning for over 15,000 high-risk students.

At APHA’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo in November, public health experts and leaders from all over the world have the opportunity to join this movement and discuss how to increase educational attainment and improve public health. APHA will host session 3112, Who Cares About Me? Schools Investing in Equity, on Monday, Nov. 12. This session will discuss the value of integrating a social justice, public health framework into school-based approaches for healthier outcomes. All are welcome to join the discussion, but you must be registered for APHA 2018 to attend.

“Education has been labeled the ’civil rights issue of our time.’ Dropout factories –– high schools where no more than 60% of the students that start as freshmen make it to their senior year –– has become a common-day term. These low-performing public schools tend to be in the poorest zip codes across our country.” –Terri Wright, founding director of APHA’s Center for School, Health and Education

Learn more about how you can support local schools and communities in advancing equity:

  • Stay connected on Twitter and follow CSHE at @StopDropOut
  • Visit the CSHE website for program outcomes, newsletters, issue briefs, and other resources
  • Review Healthy People 2020’s Adolescent Health Objective 5 and APHA policy statement 20165, which focus on addressing the social and environmental factors that disproportionately push or pull racial and ethnic minority, low-income, and gender non-conforming students out of school earlier than their peers.

Register now for APHA’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo. APHA’s Annual Meeting is the largest annual gathering of public health professionals. Thousands of people attend, and thousands of new scientific papers are presented each year on every public health topic. APHA 2018’s theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now” puts health equity at the center of our field’s attention. Learn more and register to attend.