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Giving Compass' Take:
• State and local education officials can take steps both at the policy level and the local/community level to stop the spread of measles.
• Where is there potential for both education and policymakers to collaborate? Where can donors fill in the gaps?
The surge in measles cases across the United States is on pace to produce the highest rate of infection in a quarter-century. Schools find themselves in the center of the crisis, both as the places where children gather every day and the public institutions with some sway over whether students are vaccinated.
That gives state and local school officials important roles in addressing the outbreaks, working with political leaders to make it harder to exempt students from required vaccinations while helping families appreciate why these inoculations are so important. Addressing the measles scourge is ultimately about educating people. And education is what schools do.
At the state level, boards of education and chief state school officers can speak out for changes to the vaccination requirements. Currently, 17 states allow parents to exempt their children from inoculations for personal or philosophical reasons. These exemptions should be eliminated.
Removing the religious exemptions, now offered in 47 states, may be politically difficult in some places. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is already questioning the constitutionality of legislation eliminating that exemption. Many of the more than 300 cases in New York City and its suburbs come in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where some believe that vaccinations violate Jewish law.
Testimony from educators can counter the anti-vaccination rhetoric by explaining how disease outbreaks can affect schools and students.
Local school boards could help by passing resolutions underscoring the wisdom of vaccination requirements and that the scientific evidence on the benefits of inoculations is crystal clear.
Read the full article about what education leaders can do to stop the spread of measles by Phyllis W. Jordan at The 74.