Why Public Education is a Matter of Public Health

Concurrent Sessions 3: 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm, Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Epidemiological literature has long recognized a consistent and significant association between formal educational attainment and individual health outcomes. More highly educated individuals are healthier and tend to live longer, with reduced risks of smoking, drug abuse, accidents, and chronic diseases. Schools also serve as a vital community hub for much-needed services. Despite federal laws that guarantee all children a free appropriate public education, major inequities exist. This session will explore legal issues at the intersection of schools and public health, such as school discipline reform; addressing the problem of chronic absenteeism; school nursing as an effective and underused tool for improving child and adolescent health outcomes; and innovative ways of delivering legal and other services to underserved students and their families in schools.


  • Kerri McGowan Lowrey, JD, MPH, Deputy Director and Director, Grants and Research, Network for Public Health Law Eastern Region


  • Elliott Attisha, DO, FAAP, Chief Health Officer, Detroit Public School Community District
  • Alexandra Hess, JD, Law & Policy Analyst, Temple University Beasley School of Law
  • Ayanna Jones-Lightsy, JD, Co-Director, Safe and Stable Homes Project, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation