HPPR Health, Education & Welfare


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Joe Southern / KTRK

The battle over gun control recently made an unusual foray into a Texas middle school classroom. Earlier this month, Rosenberg seventh-grader Colton Southern was asked to cover his Star Wars t-shirt, reports ABC affiliate KTRK. The shirt depicted a storm trooper aiming a laser rifle. Southern was asked to zip up his jacket to hide the shirt.

Spanking Still a Common Practice in Many US States

Dec 29, 2015
Kathy WIllens / AP photo

A new report by The Atlantic details the still-widespread use of corporal punishment in public schools across the country. Education groups, activists, and parents—including those victimized by the practice—are demanding that corporal punishment be outlawed in schools. The groups insist outlawing the practice will protect children’s physical and emotional health.

Wikimedia Commons

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas lawmakers say they won't consider increasing funding to public schools until they’re sure the money already spent on education is finding its way into the classroom. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that GOP lawmakers don't yet have a clear definition of what makes up classroom spending. Brownback said: “Right now, you've got this high percentage that's not getting to the classroom.”

Amazing Medical Discoveries of 2015

Dec 25, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

Amid all the political bickering, many good things also came out of 2015. The Huffington Post has published a list of amazing things we learned about the human body in 2015. For example, scientists discovered a virus that has the potential to permanently cure blindness. Doctors are on track to being able to detect schizophrenia by using a simple throat swab.

Merriam-Webster Reveals This Year's Most Looked-Up Word

Dec 24, 2015
Simon Robertson / Flickr Creative Commons

Every year Merriam-Webster releases their most-looked-up word for the year. This year’s winner? “Socialism.” The dictionary associates the word’s popularity with the rise of dark horse Democratic political candidate Bernie Sander, a self-described “democratic socialist.” The word sparked “intense” curiosity this year, reports The Guardian, with an increase in look-ups of almost 170% compared to last year.

NNSA / Flickr Creative Commons

Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of workers at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant outside Amarillo who’ve been compensated and treated for exposure to plant hazards. Pantex workers have been exposed to a number of harmful substances, according to Insurance Journal. These substances include chemicals in the maintenance warehouse, toxins on a production line and beryllium, a cancer-causing metal used in the production of nuclear warheads.

Tom & Katrien / Creative Commons

Rural children are more likely to experience health problems based on their surroundings, according to The Rural Blog.  A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services details how rural children are more adversely affected by their environment, their socioeconomic status, their own and their families’ health behaviors, and their access to quality clinical care. For example, rural children are more likely to be obese and live with someone who smokes.

Pipestone Veterinary Services / Harvest Public Media

Veterinarian and researcher Scott Dee doesn’t much look the part of a detective, in his jeans and company polo shirt.

But when a virus never before seen in North America swept through the network of hog farms where he works, Pipestone Veterinary Services, in January 2014, he had his first clue.

“These farms had the same pattern of infection,” Dee said.

Oklahoma Marks 100 Years of Executions

Dec 22, 2015
Paul B. Southerland / The Oklahoman

Oklahoma recently reached a grim milestone. As pf this month, the state has been executing criminals for a century, according to The Oklahoman.

Teen Drunk Driving Numbers Falling

Dec 22, 2015
Colorado Public Radio

Colorado Public Radio gave us a bit of good news this week. Decades of public service announcements and school documentaries about drunk driving appear to be working. There are far fewer young people drinking and driving than there were a decade ago. 2002, there has been almost a 40 percent drop in the number of young adults of legal drinking age who drive under the influence of alcohol. The drop was even more dramatic among teenagers.

Not All Altitude-Sickness Remedies Are the Same

Dec 21, 2015
Getty Images / New York Times

The holidays mean travel, and for many of us traveling to the mountains, that can mean altitude sickness. Acute mountain sickness is caused by the lack of oxygen in the lower air pressure that exists at higher altitudes. But treating altitude sickness can be a tricky business, reports The New York Times. There are many types of treatment these days, including oxygen therapies, oils, pills and wristbands.

Rising Livestock Antibiotic Sales Cause Concern

Dec 21, 2015
USDA / Creative Commons

Sales of antibiotics for livestock have been steadily rising over the past few years, reports The Rural Blog. Antibiotic sales increased 23 percent from 2009 to 2014, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Texas Panhandle Has Shortage of Large Animal Vets

Dec 19, 2015
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

The recent announcement of a proposed Texas Tech veterinary school in the Texas Panhandle has split interested parties into two camps. But there’s one thing they can all agree on: The area could use more veterinarians who specialize in large animals. West Texas clearly has a need for more vets for feed animals. But economics have make it difficult to attract large animal veterinarians to rural communities, reports Amarillo.com.

Map Provides a Window into U.S. Gun Violence

Dec 18, 2015
Small Arms Survey / Washington Post

A map in The Washington Post last week helped to explain the continuing surge of mass shootings in the U.S. According to the Post, the frequency of killings “is closely tied with America's very high rate of gun ownership.” According to a 2007 Small Arms Survey, the U.S.

Tips for Surviving Holiday Travel

Dec 18, 2015
Matt Campbell / EPA

45 million customers are predicted to fly this holiday season. The average American will spend more than seven hours getting somewhere. If you’re traveling, USA TODAY has some helpful hints to make your trip as stress-free as possible.

First, pack early and pack light. Knowing you’re ready to go will ease your mind. And packing light will save you the frustration of trying to find space for your bulky luggage.

Tamir Kalifa / Texas Tribune

Two months ago Texas Republican leaders announced they would kick Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid. But the organization is still receiving state funds to provide health care for low-income women, reports The Texas Tribune. And now the state officials who called for cutting the funding have fallen silent.

High Plains Hunters Help Needy Families

Dec 16, 2015
@thekevinchang / Creative Commons

Hunters in the Texas panhandle are doing their part to help needy families this holiday, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The Hunters for the Hungry program provides processed deer meat to families across the Texas Panhandle. The charitable endeavor is an effort in association with the High Plains Food Bank and Clint & Sons.

Texas Leads the Way in Bite-Mark Forensics

Dec 16, 2015
Brandon Thibodeaux / New York Times

In 1987, Texas inmate Steven Mark Chaney was sentenced to life after a dental expert testified that his teeth had caused marks on the arm of a murder victim. This same expert has now repudiated his testimony as unfounded, reports The New York Times. More than a dozen Americans have now been exonerated in cases involving debunked bite-mark testimony. And Texas is leading the way in this little-recognized corner of forensics.

Creative Commons
Grant Gerlock / NET News

There are fewer than seven persons per square mile in the Nebraska panhandle. That officially classifies the region as a “frontier area.” It also makes it a mental health shortage area, reports Nebraska Public Radio.

Rural Schools Pay Significantly More for Internet

Dec 14, 2015
Lars P / Flickr Creative Commons

In recent years Internet access in public schools has become an integral part of the education experience. But a new report by Education Week shows how rural school districts are frequently charged 2.5 times their urban counterparts for Internet. According to the Center for Rural Affairs, rural schools disproportionately lack access to fiber-optic connections and other modern technologies.

CDC / Washington Post

At least 23,000 people die as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant infections. This number is expected to rise drastically in the future as antibiotic-resistant bacteria continues to evolve. Some experts predict the death rate could rise to 10 million by 2050. Much of the problem comes from the overprescribing of antibiotics.

Andy Marso / Heartland Health Monitor

North central Kansas has been dealing with soaring Alzheimer’s rates. There are well over million Americans with Alzheimer’s. Almost all of them are 65 and over and on Medicare. That number is expected to grow by almost two million in the next 10 years. And Clay County, Kansas, is the most deeply affected in the nation. A staggering 23 percent of Clay County’s Medicare population has Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia. That’s the highest recorded rate among Medicare beneficiaries in the United States — just above Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

DennisSylvesterHurd / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report says rural health care providers should be required to participate in federal pay-for-performance programs, reports The Rural Blog. The study was requested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pay-for-performance plans reward healthcare providers for meeting certain measures for quality and efficiency. These programs penalize caregivers for poor outcomes, medical errors, or increased costs.

Will Libraries of the Future Be Book-Free?

Dec 8, 2015
Bill Kelly / NET News

A new type of library in Omaha has Nebraska Public Radio asking, will libraries of the future contain no books? Do Space, a self-described “community technology library,” comes equipped with high-end computers loaded with professional software, gaming and electronic gizmos for kids.

Leslie Corbly / KGOU

Oklahoma’s home schooling laws are some of the loosest in the nation, reports member station KGOU. And as a result, some former home schoolers are having trouble acclimating to society as adults.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas Health Institute

From the Kansas Health Institute:

Since enrollment opened Nov. 1 for 2016 health insurance in the federal marketplace, an effort called Cover Kansas has branched out across the state to help Kansans find a plan that best suits their needs.

KeotaHopesForHillary Twitter Account

Three high school students in Iowa recently launched a successful social-media campaign to urge Hillary Clinton to visit their town. The campaign is part of an effort by the students to spark a national conversation on the challenges facing rural schools, reports The Rural Blog and The Huffington Post. The students’ town of Keota, Iowa, has 1,000 residents.

Kansas K-12 Committee Grapples with Conflicting Data

Dec 1, 2015
Jared Tarbell / Creative Commons

A Kansas legislative committee studying options for K-12 funding has run into a problem, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. As the committee decides how to fund schools, they have competing research trying to influence them. Rival interest groups are flaunting a clash of studies to promote their positions. First there’s the Kansas Policy Institute, a conservative think tank in Wichita.

Report: Potential Health Effects of Legalizing Medical Marijuana in Kansas

Dec 1, 2015