There was a time when America's schools were only focused on three things - The three R's: Reading, writing and arithmetic.
Now, in a more enlightened day, we've added a big H to those three R's.... health.
It's hard for some to realize that there are children throughout America, including Nebraska, who have to go without routine health care.
Some of our children don't even get timely immunizations or care for chronic health concerns, simply because of the cost and because they do not have health insurance.
We realize that a child who is in ill health will have a difficult time learning. Thus, the need for school based health centers to give increased access to medical services for elementary and high school students.
The Affordable Care Act supported the creation of new School Based Health Centers, which will help low-income students in Nebraska receive needed health care so they can attend class and succeed in school.
Just recently, Omaha saw its seventh School Based Health Center open -- the first using Affordable Care Act funding. I attended the ceremony and heard impressive statistics about the number of children being helped.
Prior to the newest facility, Omaha's six existing Centers enrolled 3,891 students and completed 2,245 visits. Nearly 60 percent of the children served at the Centers were enrolled in Medicaid, while nearly 30 percent were uninsured. Providing primary care for these populations avoids more costly acute care down the road and keeps the kids in school by keeping them healthy, which improves the academic success of students.
These centers definitely improve future opportunities for children who live in poverty and help these children become productive and happy citizens when they are grown and have families of their own.
What goes on in these school based health clinics will make for successful university students and workers in whatever walk of life they choose because they will have a good start in life.
Most Nebraskans will agree it's important for children to have a good start and that their parents and their schools should not have to be forced to choose between healthy children or educated children.
This is what comprehensive education is all about. It's about a goal to improve academic achievement, achieving success in the classroom and raising graduation rates.
Ultimately, it's about creating good citizens who are involved in their communities and add to civic involvement.
Nebraska's school based health centers are taking care of our children today, and in doing so they are helping to ensure responsible adults tomorrow.