Students need nurses in public schools
Even before Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature made massive cuts to education last year, Milwaukee Public Schools students were struggling to receive an adequate level of health and medical care at school.
I started my current job as a school nurse at a MPS high school three years ago, and before that there was no one qualified at the school to respond to medical emergencies, prevent illnesses, recognize health hazards or provide basic medical care to the school's over 1,600 students.
Now, the governor and legislature have made things significantly worse by eliminating funding for school nurses. This will have a tremendously negative impact on the children of MPS, not only this year, but in the years and decades to come.
Nurses are critical to the successful operation of a school. They help to improve school attendance, and work with students and families to prevent asthma attacks and increase the number of students who are immunized against communicable diseases at a time when whooping cough and mumps have reappeared in our community. They consult closely with teachers to deliver accurate and current health information to students and families.
School nurses are also a part of a school's academic staff and help to teach classes on health and wellness. They work to reduce childhood obesity and prevent type-2 diabetes.
Students need to be well nourished and active in order to thrive in school, and nurses encourage physical activity, healthy diet and disease prevention habits that last children their entire lives.
I've been an RN for over 40 years, but I've found that my seven years at MPS has been the most important of my career. Health care is a human right, and it's a right that has been snatched away from the children of Milwaukee.
As a community, we need to stand up and demand that the state properly fund education so that students receive the care and preventative education that they need to be successful both academically and in life.
This commentary is published on the occasion of MPS Children's Week. To learn more, visit mpschildrenscampaign.org.
Oh please. Stop blaming Walker for everything. Stop blaming taxpayers. Neither Walker nor the taxpayers got MPS in the situation it's in. MPS has been one of the worst school districts in America long before Walker came along. If you want to find some money to pay nurses take a look at the central office administration. http://wisconsinopengov.org/index.php/schools-payroll/ Forty-eight employees. Twenty-five of them make $100,000 or more in straight salary. Twenty-six employees make over $150,000 total comp (salary plus fringe). And 37 (out of 48) make over $100,000 in total comp. Administrative overhead and benefits packages that would make private sector workers blush are choking MPS. Not Scott Walker. There are lots of feeder pigs getting fat at the trough and then blaming everyone else for their failures. For years and years we have been paying more and more money to MPS and less and less and less of it actually reaches the children. It is instead gobbled up by the feeder pigs. At least Walker is giving more parents the ability to opt out of MPS's failures. That takes the type of courage and compassion that you will not find among the feeder pigs.
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