Tag Archives: michigan

Lead poisoning hurts Detroit kids’ academics

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Detroit Free Press reporters Tina Lam and Kristi Tanner-White report that data compiled by the city shows that “More than half of the students tested in Detroit Public Schools have a history of lead poisoning, which affects brain function for life.” Lead poisoning is bad news, but it gets much worse:detroit

Now, a landmark study by the city health department and Detroit Public Schools of lead data and test scores shows that the higher the lead level, the worse a student’s scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program exam, or MEAP.

Overall, 58% of roughly 39,000 DPS students tested – 22,755 children – had a history of lead poisoning, according to the study.

Perhaps more startling: Of the 39,199 students tested as young children, only 23 had no lead in their bodies.

There are confounding factors, of course, but this chart shows the correlation between lead exposure and weaker academic skills. It’s yet another blow for a school district whose students were already some of the worst performing in the nation.

The story ran with an excellent graphic on lead poisoning levels throughout the city over time, as well as a school-by-school database of lead poisoning statistics.

Barriers in 5 Midwest states chill public access

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

A study from the the Citizen Advocacy Center finds that open government laws in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have systemic barriers that chill public participation and access to government.

The Center analyzed each state’s Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts and found striking similarities between all states, including:

  • Open government laws are sporadically enforced, which means public bodies are more likely to be unresponsive to records requests and employ exemptions to keep meetings closed.
  • No state surveyed has a government office with statutory authority specifically created to oversee and enforce sunshine laws.
  • State employees are not adequately trained to carry out open government policies and may be unintentionally violating the laws.
  • Citizens may be able to attend meetings, but there are very few opportunities to participate.

The Midwest Open Goverment Project is a comprehensive study of the Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts in those five states, under the auspices of the Citizen Advocacy Center.

Regional health reform forum webcast from Mich.

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The forum starts at 2 p.m. ET and will be streamed live.

This is the first of five regional forums that were announced by President Obama last week. They are intended to continue the public discussion about bringing down health care costs and making coverage more widely available. The president said:

“The forums will bring together diverse groups of people all over the country who have a stake in reforming our health care system and ask them to put forward their best ideas about how we bring down costs and expand coverage for American families.”

The other four events have been scheduled:

  • March 17 in Burlington, Vt.
  • March 23 in Des Moines, Iowa
  • March 31 in Greensboro, N.C.
  • April 6 in Los Angeles

Check HealthReform.gov for more details.