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Impact of Lead on Education

Teachers often face the consequences of childhood lead poisoning without even knowing that is what they are seeing.  Children who cannot sit still long enough to read a sentence.  Children who seem bright enough but just don't seem to learn.  Children who act out every impulse.   It doesn't take many such children in a classroom to disrupt learning for all the students.

Teachers who do not realize that these may be symptoms of lead poisoning may feel overwhelmed with frustration at their seeming inability to teach these children.  You need to understand that the failure is not yours, and it is not the child's.  The failure is the community's in not preventing this invisible monster from stealing our children's future.

If you suspect lead poisoning, check your student's file to see whether there is an indication of blood lead level.  Not all students have been tested, so there may not be any information.  But if there is a report of elevated blood lead either at the present time or in the past, consider the possibility that the behavior you are seeing is not willfulness or poverty or stupidity, but lead poisoning.   Children who are lead poisoned, just like children with other types of brain damage, can learn.  But they need special help, and they may never learn as well, as fast, or as much.

To learn more about the impact of childhood lead poisoning on education, see A Strange Ignorance by Michael Martin.


To help preschool children and their families learn about lead poisoning, consider the curriculum developed by the NYS Department of Health:  Pre School Curriculum

Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning 

Committed to ending childhood lead poisoning in Monroe County by 2010

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