It is about time that Charleston came out with clear language about seriousness of school boards and individuals on them being legally liable for overspending.
Nothing like it went to the public during intervention while the GCBOE was stripped of all its power.
No wonder now why all along some GCBOE members have asked probing questions about finances and they were not answered. More power to those conscientious individuals who tried hard to do their jobs and we support them 100%.
There must be a full accounting of every dollar spent during intervention with no local oversight and no accountability at all for State-appointed superintendents.
We need a complete accounting of spending for the Linn school, the loss of public money at the top of the hill on Arbuckle property, spending at Cedar Creek, unplanned spending at the GCES, the BOE office move to the Minnie Hamilton building, the scandal from the new GCES being built too small, and much more. Citizens have tracked the waste and mismanagement for years and we are outraged.
Unless a full accounting is done for public disclosure another excess levy will never pass in the County although we understand that there will be a major reset on July 1.
Thank you GFP for getting Paine’s letter out to Gilmer County.
The fix could be simple. First, everyone pay 10 percent federal, 3 percent state, and 1 percent local taxes on all income. Straight forward, no arguments, taken from pay checks and paid to the proper authorities (that is if we can get good ones elected that will use the money properly for education, infrastructure, defense, aid for the true disabled/welfare, etc). Second, there are no deductions(sorry accountants). Third, no taxes on corporations so they are free to reinvest into their business and hire more people to work(that is if you can find qualified people not on drugs these days). Fourth, get people off government support that don’t belong there(sorry again druggies and lazies). Now if you find someone taking advantage of the current tax laws, don’t blame them for wanting to keep their own money. That’s correct, their money, not yours. We have elected the people and keep doing that who make these laws. The Clinton’s and the Bush’s and the Kennedy’s, life long politicians. If you get rich being a politician, then you need to go. At least Trump got rich first and then became a politician. Sort of did it backwards didn’t he. Each and every person that wants Trump to produce his tax returns, it is time for all of them to produce theirs. The world is full of them. Me, I can care less what he makes. Good for him. Good for me. Get over it, the left lost the election, just like the right did 8 years ago. The reason Trump is president is because the last 8 years the left didn’t get it done and Clinton was a horrible candidate. Too much baggage and ran a horrible campaign also. I think she thought she couldn’t lose but she did. Now the left is acting like babies that they can be at times and it doesn’t look good. Instead of trying to run Trump(who used to be a democrat) down, why not give him a bit of support so our country will come back stronger. It seems the media is completely against Trump, all we see is negative articles. Never positive articles so the media is losing support from the people. Sorry for the long post but it is what it is. Thanks.
What a deal we have to badger our elected representatives to do what is good and right for West Virginia! Isn’t it a no brainer to be doing the right thing for your state? Obvious money means more to our legislators than the voice of the people!
Here is another way the WV School Building Authority is failing Gilmer County by refusing to provide proper oversight.
There could be ways to use available space at the new GCES more efficiently to avoid the necessity of sending students to other locations.
By failing to get involved the SBA is not contributing to solving the crowing problem to eliminate need to use hall ways at the new school for instruction space.
This is a disgrace after spending $14,000,000 of public money, and the complete story of waste, mismanagement, and abuse of authority during intervention and its aftermath would make a great story for the New York Times to print.
Those in Gilmer County who care about the education of ALL children have said this over and over. It comes as no surprise that more and more the research backs how consolidation fails them. There is no democratic governance over education here. It is simply a matter of who matters to garner support for political campaigns. Many Gilmer students have been a poster child for rural education success over the years. (At least until intervention strictly for the purpose of consolidation reared its ugly head.)Will the legislature have enough back bone to get what needs be done? Or will the Senate let all the House of Delegates and the Governor’s hard work die in committee?
Members of the Board of Governors are GSC’s ultimate leaders. They set the agenda for the President to carry out.
What happened at GSC to get it in trouble tracks to the BOG and there is no way around it.
When openings occur on the BOG the top criterion for selecting replacements has been to favor those who will run with the herd to be unwavering participants in the group think trap.
No new ideas tolerated, never seek outside critical review of organizational approaches to continually strive for improved ways of doing business, always claim that all is well while the ship is sinking, and above all else never admit that problems exist and if ones become known to the public always blame outside forces.
I just bought a new car. I signed a contract saying that I’d pay for it but paying for it is holding me back from other things that I want to do. Could we please add my car payments to your debt-forgiveness plan? If that doesn’t work out, could we get somebody else to pay for it for me? Seriously, many/most of the students who made these OBLIGATIONS, did so they could make more money, generally for doing less labor-intensive work and at the behest of the EDUCATION INDUSTRY which sold them a bill of goods that a college education guarantees success. The same colleges that charge exorbitant fees, which constantly rise at a rate greater than the cost of living increase or the rate of inflation. The same institutions that pay their administrators exorbitant salaries and that pay their athletics directors and coaches obscene salaries. The same colleges and universities that have brilliant minds in economics but who can’t manage to keep college costs and tuitions from skyrocketing. The same colleges that churn out students getting degrees that don’t have any or minimal real-world value. Of course it’s easier to blame the situation on the greedy, heartless conservatives than for people to take their individual responsibility because it’s not THEIR fault; it’s somebody else’s fault. IT’s ALWAYS somebody else’s fault.
Addressing Public Health Crises: Suicide and Opioid Addiction are Preventable
Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play.
During National Public Health Week, April 03-09, we celebrate the progress we’ve made helping people live healthier lives and those public health professionals who have helped us make that progress. But one hallmark of public health is life expectancy, and the United States just experienced a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993. This was due in part to increases in two of the nation’s most heart-breaking and yet preventable public health issues facing us: the increasing rate of suicide and the increasing misuse of opioid drugs.
In 2015, nearly 44,200 deaths were due to suicide in the United States, or about one suicide every 12 minutes. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 600,000 U.S. residents died by suicide from 1999 to 2015. The suicide rate has steadily climbed, resulting in a 2015 rate that is 28 percent higher than in 2000.
Suicide rates in less urban areas have been higher than those in more urban areas. During this time period, the gap in suicide rates increased between less urban and more urban areas. This gap began to widen more quickly in 2007-2008, possibly reflecting the impact and financial hardship of the recession, which hit rural areas harder.
Geographic disparities may also be associated with limited access to mental health care and greater social isolation, as well as the “opioid overdose epidemic,” according to the CDC report.
According to the CDC report: “Communities can benefit from implementing policies, programs and practices based on the best available evidence regarding suicide prevention and key risk factors.” And the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1.800.273.TALK (8255), supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is always available for anyone in need of help or information about suicide prevention.
Opioids include both prescription medications, such as hydrocodone, oxydone, morphine and methadone, which are approved to manage pain, as well as illicit drugs, such as heroin.
Suicide and opioid misuse and abuse risk factors can overlap, including pain, other addictions, mental disorders and disruptions in social support. Whether opioid overdose is unintentional or intentional, more than 300,000 Americans have died since 2000, including more than 33,000 deaths involving prescription and illicit opioids in 2015 alone.
To address this crisis, President Trump recently established a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which has been tasked to make recommendations to the President for improving the federal response to the opioid crisis. The commission includes heads of key Cabinet departments, including HHS Secretary Tom Price.
Both opioid addiction and suicide are serious preventable and treatable public health problems, and everyone has a role to play. Learn about some of the available resources for treatment options, mental health and behavioral health issues and related concerns:
How to find SAMHSA’s package of resources for individuals, families, friends and health care providers, including treatment and physician locators, opioid overdose toolkit, and Veteran’s Crisis Hotline.
Why Western Medicine is Failing to Fix Our Addiction Crisis
According to board-certified medical doctor Mylaine Riobe, MD, addiction is a physiological metabolism disorder and requires specialized treatment.
Dr. Riobe studied pre-med at Columbia, went to NY Medical College for her MD, and completed an OB-GYN residency. She then “went out into the real world,” only to find that what she’d learned wasn’t enough for many problems patients came to her for.
“Most of my patients were tired all the time, couldn’t sleep, were gaining weight, and experiencing anxiety and depression. While I could prescribe sleeping pills, anxiety meds, and antidepressants, [my patients] seemed to return with other problems or even the same problems again later.”
Thus began her quest for answers. She credited her grandmother for introducing her to natural medicines. That, plus Dr. Riobe’s interest in Buddhist principles, led her to study Chinese medicine for five years. “I also studied with mentors for two years by seeing patients with them in their offices.”
In the United States, she explained, medical doctors don’t need to formally study Chinese medicine. “They can get away with a six-month course and begin practicing. This leads to a misunderstanding of Chinese medicine because it’s simply not enough time to learn it.”
The doctor then implemented Chinese medicine into her practice “with great results” and was able to help her patients in new ways. Still not completely satisfied, she continued to seek solutions by then studying functional medicine. “That introduced me to a sophisticated method of testing called cellular-based testing.”
“In conventional medicine,” said Riobe, “the term prevention isn’t used accurately. An annual checkup is looking for an early diagnosis of any existing diseases. If something is wrong, both the doctor and patient hope to catch it early. The goal is to prevent death, not prevent disease.”
She said, “Similarly, when an addict goes to detox, the focus is on removing the substance from the body. A ‘good’ doctor will try to make the addict more comfortable by prescribing a drug to ease withdrawal, anxiety, and depression.”
After days or weeks in rehab, the addict’s body has rid itself of the drug, and after-care programs may offer meditation, exercise, and psychiatric help. That all sounds good, right? Yes, said Riobe, but with that approach, we are failing to look at the bigger picture.
“We’re leaving the patient with the same underlying physiological causes of addiction, which is why our current methods have up to a 95% failure rate.”
She referred to a 2016 study released by the University of Beijing that focused on addiction as a physiological metabolism disorder. She is certain it all comes down to a problem with metabolism.
“Metabolism is the reactions the body uses to make its energy so it can perform its functions,” said Riobe. “As we take in foods containing proteins and fats, and breathe oxygen, they are broken down and converted into energy. If this process doesn’t take properly, we get lactic acid instead. These metabolic problems stem from nutrient deficits, hormone imbalances, and an accumulation of toxins,” she said. “Without proper evaluation and testing, it’s extremely difficult to determine the causes.”
After looking at the study, I still needed to understand what the authors—and Riobe—were getting at. In layman’s terms, lactic acid is a chemical compound that comes from blood cells and muscle. It can become problematic when a buildup occurs, which can happen as a side effect of toxin buildup from drug use or poor nutrition. Riobe explained, “The Beijing study showed that the release of lactic acid by glia cells in the brain triggers cocaine-addiction memories and fuels addiction in rodents.”
Okay, so then I had to understand what glia cells are: they are nervous system cells in your brain and spinal cord. Your brain’s neurons do the thinking while glia cells make sure the brain is working properly so the neurons can do their thing. The study found that if production of lactic acid is blocked, cravings for cocaine diminish. I’d say that’s an important discovery toward treating coke addicts, eh?
Riobe then talked about the glaring problem with our current treatment for opioid addicts. Based solely on western medicine, the patient is medicated with a “safer” version of the addictive drug, such as Suboxone.
“This satisfies the craving and drastically reduces the risk of death from drug overdose,” said Riobe. “But it leaves the underlying cause of addiction untreated, which explains why weaning addicts off of [Suboxone] is so difficult. The disease is still present, as are its underlying causes.”
The fatal flaw in this system, according to Riobe, is this focus on preventing death. “We look at the craving as the disease and mask it with prescription drugs,” she said. “We need to look for the cause of the craving.”
That’s where Riobe’s intensive studies and integration of Chinese medicine and functional medicine comes in. Her three-fold approach is to focus on preventing disease. She explained that western medicine is not equipped to look at disease from the perspective of metabolism, but traditional Chinese medicine and functional medicine are. “Their very premise is to correct ‘metabolic dysfunction,‘“ said Riobe.
Once again, I had to slow things down to understand all of this. I felt like it was going over my head. Let’s break it down in terms of treating addiction:
Western medicine is focused on diagnosing the disease and preventing death. A doctor looks at symptoms, makes a determination, and prescribes a solution. He/She might treat all patients with similar symptoms in the same way. Often, treatment includes pharmaceuticals. This can work in the short-term but it is only masking symptoms. The problem is that addiction is a chronic illness with underlying causes that are not just mental.
Chinese medicine looks at the whole person. Each patient is considered unique and the examination is based on “life force energy” or qi (pronounced chee). The doctor will look for why the balance in the body’s metabolism has been thrown off and what is causing the cravings. Treatment will be based on restoring the body’s natural balance. This focuses on long-term wellness. Riobe explained: “Chinese medicine is scientific. It is related to quantum physics as opposed to Newtonian physics like our conventional [western] and functional medicine models.”
Functional medicine, like Chinese medicine, does not merely mask symptoms, doesn’t rely on “one size fits all” answers, and looks to bring the body back to a healthy state. However, functional medicine shares western medicine’s problem-solving through advanced laboratory testing in order to determine why the body is malfunctioning.
Riobe’s practice combines these three strategies to wean patients off of addictive substances for a much better chance at long-lasting sobriety. She is in the process of opening an inpatient drug rehabilitation facility to implement her specialized three-fold medical model. In addition, Riobe is currently seeking grants for a study that will enroll addicted patients to prove the value in her integrative model to treat drug cravings.
“If drug dependence is treated naturally from a root cause perspective,” Riobe said, “we can see a momentum shift in the U.S. and bring this epidemic under control.”
~~ Dr. Riobe studied Chinese medicine for five years. ~~
DHHR Launches Statewide Naloxone Distribution Project to Fight Opioid Overdose Deaths in WV
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today announced the first statewide naloxone distribution project aimed at preventing opioid overdose deaths and increasing access to the medication.
“Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote that, if administered in a timely manner, can effectively reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid and opiate overdose and revive victims,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health. “This collaboration represents an essential step toward turning around West Virginia’s staggering overdose statistics.”
The state-level naloxone distribution project is a partnership of DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities (BBHHF) and Bureau for Public Health (BPH). It is predominantly funded through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment $1.07 million block grant managed by the BBHHF, and is being administered by the BPH as part of its statewide harm reduction efforts. The project will be jointly overseen by the BPH and the BBHHF to focus on reduction in the number of overdose deaths.
“The partnership forged between the bureaus to move this project forward marks the first concerted, statewide effort to make this medication more widely available to all who can potentially save a life,” said Kimberly Walsh, BBHHF Deputy Commissioner. “This initiative will significantly enhance the state’s ability to ensure that non-EMS first responders, as well as others with existing programs or those who have interest in establishing programs, have access to naloxone.”
DHHR has contracted with the West Virginia University Injury Control Research Center (WVU ICRC) to implement and evaluate the program through a census of existing naloxone programs.
The WVU ICRC will use the data collected from its recent survey to compile a priority list of programs for the naloxone distribution. Priority is based on the organization’s risk level (calculated from number and rate of overdose deaths in the county where the program is located) and estimated number of naloxone doses needed (based on survey responses).
The WVU ICRC has acquired more than 16,000 doses of medication, which will enable the distribution of more than 8,000, two-dose naloxone rescue kits to new and existing programs across the state.
Medical marijuana may reduce opioid painkiller use and abuse, three separate studies suggest.
Tara Holmes studied the issue this summer for the West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy. She said one of the studies that noted the clear benefits of medical marijuana was the 2015 National Bureau of Economic Research report.
“Providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly-addictive painkillers,” Holmes concluded.
Separate research found fewer overdoses, and that older patients took fewer opioid painkillers in states that have approved medical marijuana use, she said. The West Virginia Legislature discussed legalizing cannabis for medical use last year, but some expressed concern that the move could increase abuse of what has sometimes been described as a “gateway drug.“
Several neighboring states are now in the process of implementing medical marijuana laws. West Virginia’s Legislature seems likely to consider the issue again in the next session, in part because marijuana could be a source of badly-needed revenue. And according to Holmes, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a significant health benefit.
“The 2014 study done by JAMA suggests that statewide legalization of marijuana is linked with lower state-level opioid overdoses,” she said.
Medical Marijuana patients often take a pharmaceutical grade extraction - and defenders say that shouldn’t be confused with the joints that might be sold by a street dealer. In fact, Holmes said a third study looked at the prescription habits of Medicare Part D patients. She said even though all were over 65, they took fewer opioid painkillers when medical marijuana was available; healthier, she said, and cheaper.
“They would choose that over an opioid-based painkiller. Also, on the flip side of that, the state wouldn’t be paying for these prescription drugs, and these people wouldn’t be paying for it out-of-pocket.“
West Virginia has a high rate of both chronic pain and opioid prescriptions. The state also has more than twice the national average rate of overdose deaths.
More information on Holmes’s finding is availablehere.
Baby Names Parents Say They Regret Giving Their Kids
You would think the baby name Charlotte would be high on parents’ “love” lists, but as it stands, it’s actually the baby name parents surveyed regret the most. That’s so interesting considering how timeless and regal a name like Charlotte is. At least Prince William and Kate enjoy this baby name.
One baby name you might be surprised to see on this list is Amelia. Sweet and serene, Amelia seems to be a popular baby name many parents surveyed regret giving their daughters—which is a shame considering how pretty it sounds.
Aww, who doesn’t have love for Anne? It’s endearing, uncomplicated, and a name bestowed on some of the most memorable authors and poets—not to mention a pretty long list of royal ladies.
Come on, who doesn’t love the name Daniel? It gives us so many nicknames—like Dan, Danny, Danny-O—which makes this baby name too good to pass up. Sadly, this popular Hebrew name for little gents-in-training earns a spot on the list of baby names parents regret.
If you happen to be #TeamJacob, we’re sorry to say this name made the list of baby names parents regret. Jacob is very charming but is also a pretty popular baby name that could make some parents feel like it’s not distinctive enough.
A certain British character—who dresses up in amazing tuxedos and drinks martinis shaken and not stirred—might make the name James sound cool, but that alone is not enough to keep this baby name off the list. (We still love you, Bond.)
Sadly, lovable Thomas finds a place on the list of baby names parents regret giving their children. What’s interesting to note is that this popular biblical name also carries the nickname “Doubting Thomas.“ It’s pretty safe to say that moms and dads who chose this name are experiencing doubt. Talk about an omen.
Alex?! Sure, this name is a bit ordinary, but it could be a short name—a nickname even—for so many awesome baby names. There’s Alejandro, Alessandro, Alexandria, Alexis, Alexander, and a long list of other wickedly awesome baby names.
Playfully known as “another Tony,“ Anthony finds its way onto the list of regretted baby names. Maybe if they knew Anthony is Latin for “priceless,“ that would cheer up some parents!
It pains us to see David made this list of regrettable baby names. Was no one else a fan of Beverly Hills, 90210? Did Brian Austin Green not give you life growing up as David Silver? Even if his character wasn’t inspiration for this baby name, David is still a pretty rocking choice.
Aww, who could ever regret such a darling baby name like Emily? It’s such a delightful choice that offers a fun play on the classic Amelia.
Freddy. Fred. Fred Man. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears a good number of moms and dads just aren’t feeling the name Frederick anymore.
No matter how many famous Jacks we know—including Jack Nicholson, Jack Black, Jackie Chan (hey, there’s a Jack in there), and the late Jack Lemmon—the numbers don’t seem to matter. Jack is one of the baby names parents surveyed regret the most.
Who knew that a three-letter pet name would cause such disappointment? As sugary (you know, extra sweet) as the baby name Jay is, it doesn’t seem to strike a chord with new parents. In fact, some wish they chose another name for their kids.
Little Joseph might be a cutie, but his baby name is one that parents surveyed say they regret. Maybe they know one too many Joeys? In the words of Joey Tribbiani, “These are just feelings. They’ll go away.“
Jane might be a usual name to some, but it’s such a classic. Jane Eyre. Jane Austen novels. The name Jane has given us tons of amazing literary works and inspiration to last a lifetime!
As fragrant as a floral-inspired baby name might be, some are more sweet-smelling to parents than others. Finding a spot on the list of most regrettable baby names is Lily, which might surprise some moms and dads. Perhaps parents who now dislike their choice no longer enjoy these trumpet-shaped blooms?
Are traditional baby names no longer in style? Louise was quite the popular name in the early 1900s, but has since lost demand. Now it appears to be a baby name moms and dads surveyed wish they didn’t give their daughters.
Mayday, mayday! It would appear parents who participated in the Mumsnet survey now wish they wouldn’t have named their little girls May. A pet name thought to unite Mary and Margaret, this name is one we think is super sweet.
How many people do you know who have the name Meghan? It’s a well-liked baby name that so many parents love to use. Maybe this is one of the reasons why some moms and dads surveyed now wish they chose another option.
Aww. Please tell us this isn’t true! Sadly, the baby name Oscar is a choice parents regret—which makes us a bit glum considering how adorable it is.
As great as you might think this precious stone is, some parents feel Ruby, as a baby name, isn’t that lustrous. Who knows why this red gem made the list of most regrettable baby names. All we know is it’s here and moms and dads are second-guessing their decision.
Last but certainly not least is Sally. A precious pet name for Sarah, this baby name just doesn’t seem to inspire moms and dads surveyed on Mumsnet anymore. Who knows if this baby name will reignite cheer again.
West Virginia Feed to Achieve Program Aims to End Childhood Hunger
West Virginia Feed to Achieve (WVFTA), an initiative of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Children Nutrition, officially launched today during a special event on the Capitol lawn.
State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano served as keynote speaker and addressed the importance of working together to end childhood hunger in West Virginia.
“Hunger among children has a major impact not only on health care costs later in life, but also educational achievement, worker productivity and eventually the ability of the region and nation to compete in a global economy,” Martirano said. “Feed to Achieve will be a tremendous asset to our state. It will also help build the foundation for other states to develop and carry out similar programs for children.”
West Virginia Feed to Achieve is a nonprofit, donation-based program that aims to end childhood hunger in West Virginia by providing grants to programs that are feeding children outside of the school day such as backpack feeding programs, school-based food pantries, community-based food pantries, and church-based feeding programs.
“In West Virginia there are nearly 1 in 4 children that live in a household that does not have sufficient access to food,” said Samantha Snuffer-Reeves, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition Coordinator. “Feed to Achieve’s main goal is to feed children when they’re most at risk: after school hours, holidays, weekends, snow days and during the summer months.”
The inspiration for WVFTA occurred when West Virginia Senator John Unger was visiting an elementary school in Martinsburg. He asked what students would change about their school and one boy said he would like to receive two lunches so there would be enough food left over for his parents and siblings. “That was a huge wakeup call for our department- something had to be done about childhood hunger in our state, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Martirano said.
West Virginia Feed to Achieve is solely dependent on donations from individuals, businesses and corporations. All donations received directly fund grants that are distributed to eligible social service organizations statewide twice a year.
Grant applications will be received in September in preparation for winter and in April 2017 in preparation for next summer. Funds will then be awarded in November 2016 and June 2017. The West Virginia Feed to Achieve Selection Committee will review grant applications and award funding. Funding amounts will be dependent on the amount of money in the state West Virginia Feed to Achieve fund.
Since West Virginia Feed to Achieve programs are strictly donation based, interested corporate or individual donors are encouraged to visit and make donations on the West Virginia Feed to Achieve website at www.wvfeedtoachieve.com.
Rising Level Of Child Poverty “Ignored” By Candidates
Given how little attention it’s getting from candidates, children in poverty is a hidden crisis, say advocates.
According to the most recent complete numbers from Kids Count, more children in West Virginia and across the nation are growing up in poverty now than during the Great Recession.
But Bruce Lesley, president of the children’s advocacy group First Focus, says in the first 10 Democratic and Republican presidential debates, only one question out of 500 was specific to the lives children in this country now live.
“Someone will say I care about terrorism and we need to do it for our children,” he relates. “That may be true but there are huge issues facing our children directly. So where’s the big debate?“
About 20 percent of U.S. children live below the poverty line, a rate sharply higher than adults.
The number of West Virginia children in poverty rose by about 7 percent between 2007 and 2014.
Folks working on children’s issues say they have trouble drawing attention to the topic during political fights and budget battles.
Lesley says even though childhood poverty is increasing, federal spending devoted to fighting it has fallen in recent years.
“If they would engage in the conversation, I think they would find a very receptive audience among the public but because kids don’t vote, they don’t have PACs, they’re not donating to campaigns, they’re not on top of mind, and so it’s a huge problem that we face,“ Lesley says.
Although the issue doesn’t always draw a lot of attention, Julia Isaacs, a senior fellow with the Urban Institute, says it can be hugely important.
“Children growing up in poverty tend not to do as well in school, which means that then when they’re adults they may be in poverty,” she points out. “And so one reason we try to break the cycle of poverty is so we don’t have inter-generational poverty. “
Families With Kids Still Recovering From Recession
New data from the KIDS COUNT Data Book suggests that families with children have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. Most economic indicators are still below prerecession levels, and the nation’s child poverty rate remains stuck at 22%.
In this year’s ranking of states on the economic well-being of kids, Wyoming moved into the top spot, and Louisiana dropped to last.
Heroin, Painkiller Overdose Antidote Getting Easier To Buy
It is becoming easier for friends and family of heroin users or patients taking strong painkillers to buy an antidote that can reverse the effect of an overdose, as policymakers look for ways to fight a growing epidemic.
Naloxone, which is known by the brand-name Narcan, can quickly revive someone who has stopped breathing after overdosing on so-called opioids, highly addictive drugs that include prescription painkillers like Vicodin as well as illegal narcotics like heroin. In the past, naloxone has been available mostly through clinics, hospitals or first responders like paramedics.
Now, nearly every state has passed laws that allow people to buy naloxone without requiring a prescription from their doctor, and drugstores and other retailers around the country are making it easier to buy the drug.
“This saves lives, doesn’t seem to have any negative impact that we can identify, therefore it should be available,“ said Dr. Corey Waller of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Target and Wal-Mart have joined independent drugstores in either relaxing access to naloxone through their pharmacies in dozens of states, or are making plans to do so. The grocer Kroger is also selling it without requiring a prescription in a few states.
Deaths linked to opioids soared to more than 28,000 in 2014, the highest number on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 78 American die every day from an opioid overdose.
Autopsy results released Thursday show that the musician Prince died in April from an accidental overdose of fentanyl, an opioid painkiller that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Prince, 57, died less than a week after his plane made an emergency stop for medical treatment as he was returning from an Atlanta concert, where first responders gave him a shot of naxalone.
Naloxone can restore a person’s breathing after it is injected or sprayed in the nostrils, bringing overdose victims back from near-death inside a few minutes.
Increased access to it through drugstores and other retailers comes with some limitations. The drug can cost around $80 per dose or more, which might make it unaffordable for someone with little disposable income and no insurance coverage. Customers also have to ask a pharmacist for it.
“You can’t treat it like an over-the-counter decongestant,“ said John Beckner, a pharmacist with the National Community Pharmacists Association, a trade group for independent pharmacies. “It’s a powerful drug product that’s going to require some instruction on how to use it.“
Beckner said pharmacists can teach the average customer how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer the drug and about what side effects to expect.
Only five states — Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana and Wyoming — have yet to pass a law improving naloxone access, according to The Network for Public Health Law, a nonprofit that helps government agencies.
Legislatures in two of those states, Hawaii and Missouri, have passed bills that await governor signatures, and Montana regulators have worked out an agreement with CVS to allow for wider access at its stores.
Opponents of this push, like Maine Gov. Paul LePage, have noted that naloxone doesn’t treat addiction and have said it discourages people from seeking treatment by essentially offering a safety net if they do overdose.
Waller doesn’t buy that argument. He said research shows that greater access to naloxone doesn’t draw people to illegal drug use or foster an addiction. He said naloxone is a drug that simply keeps someone from dying from their disease. He compared it to an EpiPen, which is used for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions.
“If you have an EpiPen, it’s not going to make you go out and seek out your allergy more often,“ he said.
CommunityConcerns™: Gilmer County’s Summer Energy Express Program
WVDOE Withholds Summer Feeding and Reading Program
From Gilmer County’s Disadvantaged Children
Citizens are outraged about the failure of the WVDOE to ensure that our disadvantaged children will be fed and given the opportunity to improve their reading skills during the summer. In previous years the County participated in the Energy Express’ program. The highly successful program is administered by WVU’s extension service. Its purpose is to feed disadvantaged children and to improve their reading skills.
Everyone in Gilmer County knows that some of our children are vulnerable because of poor nutrition. In information related to Energy Express’ program it is stated “When the school bell rings for the final time each June it signals the beginning of summer months. But, for many West Virginia children, it also signals the end of the security of having two meals served to them each weekday.” There is no acceptable excuse for failing to feed the County’s hungry children when Energy Express is available to them.
Reading is something else. Although the State is prone to keep the information secret from citizens, 50% or more of our children are not proficient in reading. Reading is the gateway to success in high school and college, learning a trade in our high tech world, and being prepared for life in general. If a child lags in reading at an early age chances for escaping poverty are glum. Without access to Energy Express’ summer program for which reading improvement, in addition to a nutrition program, is emphasized the County’s disadvantaged children have become innocent victims.
What caused cancellation of Energy Express’ program in the County? It is understood that the State’s excuse was that a facility for the program was unavailable this year. Who in their right mind believes the truthfulness of that claim? Some checking exposed the State’s flimsy position that because deteriorated steps at the high school will be repaired when the program would have been offered, that facility could not be used for Energy Express. That was insulting nonsense because children could have entered back and side doors to avoid need to use the front steps. Besides, there would have been space at other facilities owned by the County’s school system, something could have been worked out at the recreation center or the College, or the I. L. Morris family, known for its long history of generous caring for the County’s children, would have prevented the disaster.
The reprehensible failure to feed and to help enhance reading skills of Gilmer County’s disadvantaged children is another example of broken State government. In particular it represents a shameful failure of Dr. Martirano’s WVDOE and Mr. Green’s WVBOE to provide effective oversight for how the County’s school system has functioned during intervention. The State’s administrative failure occurred because of its dictatorial elimination of all checks and balances by the County’s elected school board.
Incompetence, waste, and mismanagement from five years of the WVBOE’s intervention are horrible enough, but abuse of the County’s disadvantaged children by eliminating their access to Energy Express demonstrates a much higher degree of broken State government.
What can be done to deal with this latest atrocity? The answer is that citizens must begin to speak out to officials they elect to send to Charleston. If citizens fail to speak out nothing will be done to help our disadvantaged children and they will continue to suffer because of Gilmer County’s enabling complacency.
Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., taking almost half a million lives every year. Every death caused by tobacco is preventable. Progress has been made but new threats to our nation’s health have emerged, so we’re taking the next logical step to protect our kids from the dangers of tobacco.
In 2009, a bipartisan Congressional act entrusted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products in order to protect public health. Last week, we finalized a rule that extends FDA authority to regulate ALL tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, hookah, and cigars. Under federal law, retailers will no longer be able to sell e-cigarettes, cigars, or other covered tobacco products to anyone under age 18 and all tobacco sales to those 26 and under will require a photo ID. Going forward, the FDA will be able to review and regulate new tobacco products before they hit store shelves.
Watch Secretary Burwell talk about this historic step that will help us improve public health and protect future generations from the dangers of tobacco.
Report: Bullying Is A Serious Public Health Problem
Zero-tolerance policies are ineffective in combating bullying, an independent government advisory group says in urging schools to take a more preventative approach that includes teaching tolerance to address this “serious public health problem.“
In a report released Tuesday, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said bullying should no longer be dismissed as merely a matter of kids being kids. “Its prevalence perpetuates its normalization. But bullying is not a normal part of childhood,“ the report said.
Schools, the researchers concluded, should end zero-tolerance policies that automatically suspend students for bullying.
“There’s no evidence that they are impactful in a positive way,“ said Catherine Bradshaw, a professor and associate dean at the University of Virginia, and part of the committee that wrote the report. “They can actually do more harm than good and in fact don’t provide the skill training or replacement behaviors for youth that are suspended or expelled.“
The report also said zero-tolerance policies may lead to an underreporting of bullying because suspensions are perceived as too punitive.
Frederick Rivara, chairman of the committee and a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of Washington, cautioned that bullying has lasting negative consequences and cannot be ignored. “While there is not a quick fix or one-size-fits-all solution, the evidence clearly supports preventive and interventional policy and practice,“ he said.
Programs that teach children how to get along with one another and what to do if they see kids who are being bullied, are more effective, Rivara said. Parents, too, can do their part, he said, by encouraging children to tell them if they’re being bullied, reporting it to the school or teacher and making sure their schools have effective anti-bullying programs in place.
Another committee member, Sandra Graham, a professor at UCLA, said schools need to be more proactive in teaching tolerance. “We need to be able to learn to live and accept and get along with people who are different from us,“ she said.
“Bullies are often very popular ... there are a lot of kids who bully to maintain their popularity and social status, so schools need to be addressing that,“ Graham added.
Bullying behavior is seen as early as preschool and peaks during the middle school years, the researchers said. The problem has morphed from the traditional bully-in-the-schoolyard scenario to newer forms of electronic aggression, such as cyberbullying on social media sites.
The report said both bullies and their victims can suffer short and long-term consequences, including poor grades, anxiety and depression.
A government report this month on school crime from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Justice Department suggested bullying is down sharply from more than a decade ago. It found the percentage of public schools reporting bullying at least once a week decreased from 29 percent in 1999-2000, to 16 percent in 2013-14.
The National Academies was more cautious about trying to gauge the extent to which bullying is a problem across the country. In its report, it said bullying likely affects between 18 percent and 31 percent of young people. It had lower estimates for cyberbullying victims, saying it ranged from about seven to 15 percent of youngsters.
The committee also looked at the relationship between bullying and school shootings, but concluded that the data are unclear on the role of bullying as a factor or cause in the shootings. It also found no causal link between being bullied and suicide.
Teen pregnancy rates are falling to historic lows in the United States, yet they remain stubbornly high in West Virginia.
New figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that from 2006 to 2014, the birth rate for teenagers 15-19 has dropped 41 percent, with an average of 24 per 1,000 teens giving birth now compared with 41 per 1,000 just a decade ago.
The Guttmacher Institute’s Kathryn Kost, attributes the steady downward trend to teens becoming smarter about how to prevent pregnancy. “Sexual activity has remained constant among this age group, but birth and abortion rates have both decreased dramatically,” she said earlier this month after similar findings to the CDC’s. “The available evidence suggests that increased contraceptive use is the primary driver of this decline.”
The teen birth rate has also fallen in West Virginia during that period but only by 15 percent, and it remains one of the highest in the nation. The CDC reports that 38 of every 1,000 teenage girls gave birth in 2014, ranking West Virginia 45th, behind only Texas (39), Mississippi (40.3), New Mexico (40.5), Oklahoma (40.7) and Arkansas (41.5).
In a dozen West Virginia counties the teen birth rate ranks with the highest in the country, at 48 or more births per 1,000 girls.
CDC Director Tom Frieden is encouraged by the national numbers. “The United States has made remarkable progress in reducing both teen pregnancy and racial and ethnic differences,” Frieden said, “but the reality is, too many American teens are still having babies.”
And that remains a problem in West Virginia because of the substantial impact of teen pregnancy, which is unintended nearly 90 percent of the time, on the mother, the child and society. According to the CDC, teen pregnancy and birth “are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only half of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age.”
Additionally, the children born to teenage mothers “are more likely to have lower school achievement and to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.”
Dr. Rahul Gupta, Commissioner of the West Virginia DHHR’s Bureau of Public Health and State Health Officer says it’s critical that “proper education is being provided to teens of child bearing age so that they don’t suffer from the same health, economic and social consequences” as others who have babies before they are ready.
Parents teach their children (hopefully) to delay pregnancies until they are emotionally and economically prepared, but sexual drive is powerful and adolescents are not always equipped to make the best decisions. However, the research shows providing teens with accurate information and making birth control available works.
Pass the Buck: Pregnancy Care Providers Want WV to Up Tobacco Tax
CHARLESTON, WV - West Virginia pregnancy-care providers want lawmakers to “pass the buck” by raising the state cigarette tax by $1 a pack.
With a big hole in the state budget, the $150 million more a year in tobacco revenue looks appealing. But doctors here also hope to reduce the rate of smoking by pregnant women here, which now is the highest in the country.
Amy Tolliver, director of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership, said the sticker shock from a big tax hike would help, and as a result reduce problems such as low birth-weight babies.
“Smoking in pregnancy drives our pre-term birth rate, it causes an impact in the fetal brain development, and it’s costing us as a state,“ she said.
Critics oppose raising any taxes, and have argued that this one would fall hardest on the poor. Supporters have said the state spends more than $1 billion a year on smoking-related health-care costs, but only brings in 17 percent of that through tobacco taxes.
According to projections from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the tax hike would mean 2,700 fewer West Virginia pregnancies affected by smoking over five years, resulting in $6.5 million in health-care savings. Moreover, Tolliver said those premature and low birth-weight babies have lifelong health problems. From day one, they’re more likely to end up in intensive care, which is expensive.
“If we could impact that and reduce the number of pre-term births and those babies that need additional high-level care in our neonatal intensive care units,“ she said, “we could impact the Medicaid budget.“
Critics of the tax hike have also pointed out that smokers will resent it. However, Tolliver said most smokers want to quit long before they do, and research has proved that higher tobacco prices help them quit. She said that’s especially true for pregnant women.
“Women are driven to try to quit smoking. They want to do the best thing for their baby,“ she said. “Pregnancy is a time when we can have the biggest impact on helping those women quit.“