Monthly Archives: January 2014

HJ News and Resource Roundup 1/31/14

After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back with our (soon to be once again) weekly news and resource round-up! To make up for lost time, we’ve got extra-long, extra-special coverage for you today. This week we’ll cover racial disparities in asthma and cancer rates, mental and maternal health issues, some notable anniversaries we missed, and, as always, the latest on the ACA rollout.

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

The NYT discusses challenges in tackling the racial gap in breast cancer survival.

The Asian American community faces high rates of infection and amputation, in part due to cultural practices.

Childhood asthma rates soar in low-income communities of color.

Conventional heart health education efforts may fail to reach Latinas, who already face disproportionate rates of cardiac illness.

This infographic explores the health impact of unemployment, which is particularly high for people of color.

A new study suggests that internalized racism can accelerate the aging process and other health issues in black men.


Less than half of polled people are aware of the March enrollment deadline to avoid penalties.

States that refuse to expand Medicaid are leaving many people of color without insurance.

For many consumers, income levels will fluctuate enough causing them to have to alternate between Medicaid and exchange coverage, likely leading to higher costs for states and insurance companies and gaps in coverage for consumers.

The HHS Advisory Committee on Minority Health has released a report on minority involvement in health exchanges.

Enrollment continues, yet health literacy and language accessibility remain low.

And just in case you were wondering, no, Republicans aren’t backing down.

Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health

In our last round-up, we reported on the growing trend of criminalization of HIV+ people. Now, new legislation has been proposed to combat this discrimination. Meanwhile, the real threat to HIV treatment and prevention looms: our very own health care system.

New parent? Worried about vaccinating your kids? Here’s an important reason to vaccinate.

When maternal health, end of life care, and the abortion debate collide. (You can read about the outcome of this case here.)

Mental Health

LGBTQ-friendly school policies reduce suicide risk for all students. This is particularly important given the high rates of suicide in the trans community.

Al Jazeera America explores psychiatric boarding, hospital funding, and the rights of people with mental illness.

Anniversaries and Special Events

De Blasio Inauguration

New York City has a new mayor! Congratulations and welcome to Mayor De Blasio. We wish you the best in making your promise for progressive reform a reality. We especially hope you will take up the charge of advancing health justice!


It’s a new year! And speaking of progressive reform, here’s some of the best 2013 had to offer.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Read a touching personal account of Dr. King’s legacy. Also, be sure to check out last year’s post on Dr. King’s legacy and the fight for racial justice in health care.

41st Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

ProPublica offers an excellent round-up of their own of the best reporting on abortion.

State of the Union Address

This year, President Obama defends the ACA and calls 2014 the “year of action.”

Here and Now: Local and Timely Issues

The search for missing autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo has come to a tragic end, leaving legislators to explore how best to protect other children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Mayor De Blasio has dropped the appeal against the judicial ruling that found stop & frisk unconstitutional!

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Improving Access to Physical Education for All New York City Students

By Sascha Murillo, Community Organizer – Health Justice Program

New York State requires that all schools provide students in all grades with physical education (PE). However, in New York City, the majority of schools are failing to meet the state PE mandate. Several reports demonstrate the breadth of the problem. A New York Times article found that about 1 in 5 NYC high school students reports having no gym class in an average week. An audit conducted by former Comptroller Liu reported that none of the 31 NYC elementary schools visited was meeting the New York State PE mandate.

While the problem affects nearly all NYC schools, schools in neighborhoods that are predominantly low-income and Black or Latino are even more unlikely to provide adequate PE. The disproportionate lack of access to PE for low-income students of color only exacerbates existing racial disparities and inequities in child obesity and academic achievement.

Ensuring access to PE for all students in NYC could go a long way to addressing these health and educational inequities. There is a plethora of evidence demonstrating that PE improves student health, reduces child obesity, and improves academic performance, including test scores. Yet with all that said, why are schools failing to provide their students with adequate PE instruction?

The cause of the problem is manifold. Many schools are simply unaware of the requirements. The PE standards as laid out by the state require that students in grades K through 6 receive 120 minutes of PE per week. The students in grades 7 and 8 should receive at least 90 minutes of PE per week and all students in grades 7-12 should have at least three gym classes per week in one semester and two classes per week in the other semester. Recess cannot be counted toward meeting these minimum time standards.

Yet even when schools have knowledge of the requirements, many struggle to meet them. Some schools utilize non-certified instructors for PE, which may prevent students from receiving quality physical education instruction. And space limitations due to co-location of multiple schools in buildings with one gymnasium also impede a school’s ability to provide all students with adequate PE time.

So what can be done? With a new mayoral administration bent on tackling the city’s widening inequities, education and health advocates alike are coming together to raise the importance of providing quality and comprehensive PE to all of NYC’s students. New York Lawyers for the Public Interest has teamed up with a wide variety of stakeholders, including Bronx Health REACH, to advocate for improved access to PE in all NYC public schools.

The NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) has the opportunity to reverse the trend in PE and work to support and ensure compliance with the state PE mandate. The NYC DOE should provide schools with resources on the PE requirement by posting information on their website and sharing best practices across the five boroughs, including examples of co-located schools that have coordinated schedules to meet the PE time requirements. The NYC DOE should also document and regularly report schools’ compliance.

The NYC DOE should also adequately staff the department with professionals who can provide schools with support and technical assistance with offering a comprehensive PE curriculum. The NYC DOE could work toward these goals within the Office of School Wellness, which it jointly oversees with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The new mayoral administration is in charge of one of the largest public school systems in the nation, with one of the most diverse student populations. We hope that the new mayoral administration will improve the physical and academic well-being of millions of students and take a step to advance health and educational justice by making improved access to quality physical education a priority.

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