Earlier this week I posted some information about the damage done by Lead Poisoning. A former Lead Educator with the Indiana Department of Health – Ellen – commented…
Lead can have devastating effects on school performance. . . A child who is lead poisoned as a toddler can continue to have problems in school all the way through adolescence, even if the lead hazard was found and removed.
Indiana is fortunate that our Maternal and Child Health Division at the State Department of Health was able to take over the funding for Lead and Healthy Homes when the funding at the national level dried up. I don’t know if other states were as lucky. Any legislator that claims to care about education must acknowledge the importance of a healthy home and school environment.
The Arizona School Boards Association has published a report (available in pdf) titled, A Strange Ignorance The role of lead poisoning in failing schools.. The executive summary contains the following.
Not all children can learn, not when they have been poisoned. If environmental lead, instead of calcium, is incorporated into a child’s rapidly developing brain tissue “between birth and age three,” those tissues will not function correctly. Ever. By the time children reach the public schools, the damage has been done, and it is irreversible.
Lead is an incredibly potent neurotoxin prevalent in older neighborhoods. It takes a surprisingly small amount of lead to damage developing brains, a few sand-grain sized paint chips will do it. Those children, in turn, will sustain brain damage that ensures both educational and social problems for the rest of their life. This early lead poisoning has been linked to:
- an inability to learn because brain tissues constructed of lead do not bind properly to form the neural learning connections,
- to attention deficit disorders because lead damaged brain tissues have a tendency to misfire and disrupt normal concentration,
- to violence because the careful balance of brain structures in the prefrontal cortex that inhibits impulsivity and violence is disrupted, and
- to drug use because untreated sufferers find illegal drugs help to medicate the agitation caused by lead damaged brain cells.
What is it that prevents school “reformers” and their legislative pals from dealing with the effects of poverty on nearly a quarter of our children? What is it to deny those effects and blame teachers, their unions and public schools for the failure of our nation to provide an adequate environment for children to grow. Is it ignorance? Neglect? Greed?