NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

Poor, Black, and Healthy

Posted by novometro on March 14, 2007

The new mayor’s task force looking at health care released their findings and suggestions yesterday, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the story, the recommendations identify the still shocking gaps in health that divide races and social classes.

The recommendations will be criticized for being impractical and expensive. And some do sound bad. The idea of a mobile health clinic should be dumped immediately. An RN in an RV will have about as much effect on the health of poor people as mobile libraries have had on literacy. If a new city health czar wants to bring the medicine to Mohammed, they should consider putting a Berkeley Bowl on wheels. I know that there already are some city farm pushcarts making irregular routes through poor Oakland districts, but there is only so much appetite for kale, turnips, and eggs in any neighborhood. Let’s get some frozen pesto pizza on an organic crust and some garlic pita chips out on Peralta and 14th Streets.

If the mayor pays especially close attention to any of the recommendations listed in the Chronicle story, I hope it’s the idea of putting more health care in schools. I’ve heard good things about the clinic at Youth Uprising, which serves the students attending the schools formerly known as Castlemont, and its sister clinic at one of the McClymonds spin-offs. It would be interesting to see if there is any research looking at how those clinics have improved the academic performance of students. After all, education is the real secret to longevity and health. This from a January article in the New York Times: “The one social factor that researchers agree is consistently linked to longer lives in every country where it has been studied is education. It is more important than race; it obliterates any effects of income.

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3 Responses to “Poor, Black, and Healthy”

  1. V Smoothe said

    Are you suggesting that the Bookmobile doesn’t have a significant impact on literacy? Oakland’s bookmobile provides vital support for early literacy training in pre-schools and child care centers, as well as teen and adult rehabilitation centers, and provides services for economically disadvantaged community members who face transportation limitations and don’t have time for physical library visits.

    And forget organic pizza on wheels- can we focus on getting a single grocery store in West Oakland first?

  2. dto510 said

    Mobile delivery of healthy food, including partially-prepared food, would be a much faster and easier way to improve nutrition than bringing in a grocery store. As we have seen, healthy grocery stores in West Oakland do not pencil out even with substantial government subsidies (like Nadel’s and WOPAC’s gifts and guarantees to the proposed Mandela Co-op). Mobile delivery has fewer fixed costs and so could operate with fewer subsidies than an actual store.

    I don’t think that mobile libraries and mobile food delivery are all that comparable. But is there evidence that the mobile library has no effects on literacy?

  3. Bookmobiles work where people are many, many miles from the nearest library. In cities like Oakland, the problem is not so much one of access as one of appetite. Some people just don’t like to read.

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