On December 5, 2019, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) convened a 1-day workshop at Preservation Park in Oakland, California, to explore the relationships between health and education. This workshop was organized by an independent planning committee composed of members from the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement and outside experts.
The workshop objectives were drawn from the Statement of Task (see Box 1-1):
- Facilitating a population health orientation and perspective among public health practitioners, health care leaders, and educators;
- Exploring the interface between health and education, particularly for young adolescents; and
- Leveraging the resources of public health, health care, and education workforces to promote health and well-being in middle school.
Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean and professor of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-chair of the Roundtable on
Population Health Improvement, opened the workshop by describing the roundtable’s purpose and vision and the workshop’s goals. He explained that since 2013, the roundtable has provided a trusted venue for leaders from various sectors to meet and discuss opportunities for achieving better population health, including increasing life expectancy, improving quality of life, and reducing health disparities. The roundtable’s vision of a healthy and productive society that cultivates human capital and equal opportunity rests on a recognition that the positive outcomes in such a society are “shaped by interdependent social, economic, environmental, genetic, behavioral, and health care factors and will require robust national and community-level policy change and dependable resources to achieve it.”
There have been three previous roundtable workshops dedicated to exploring the relationship between health and education, as well as a recent National Academies consensus study, resulting in the report The Promise of Adolescence: Realizing Opportunity for All Youth (NASEM, 2019) that described adolescence as a critical period of development and change. The December 5 workshop was distinguished by building on these concepts and narrowing the focus to middle school and population health.
The proceedings summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place during the public workshop. The first presentation was a keynote address that focused on the characteristics of middle school students and the research gaps specifically pertaining to middle schoolers (Chap
ter 2). Two presentations followed the keynote. The first gave an overview of the core developmental processes of middle schoolers, health risks, and protective factors, as well as opportunities for achieving equity within the educational system. The next presentation, by Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf, described two programs addressing health in Oakland and the need for collaboration within and outside government to effect change. A panel of presentations, discussions, and question-and-answer sessions with members of the audience immediately followed Mayor Schaaf’s presentation (Chapter 3). This panel explored several activities, programs, and strategies that are variations on the traditional approach being used to support middle school students. A short video was then shown of the first-place winner of the Education Equality for All competition in which she described her position on education advocacy (Chapter 4). Two additional panels made up the afternoon session; one touched on the major sectors involved in health and education (Chapter 4), while the other defined large-scale issues surrounding middle school success (Chapter 5). The workshop concluded with reflections from roundtable members and participants on key takeaways from the day’s presentations and discussions (Chapter 6).
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