Walking into the recent Oklahoma Department of Education conference It Starts Here: Trauma-Informed Instruction Summit, it was clear that this event would be different than so many symposiums during the corporate school reform era.
Ordinarily, the hallway is full of breakfast foods and tables of deep-pocketed education consultants. During this time of austerity, the lack of pastries wasn’t that surprising. But the halls were full of tables of nonprofit social service providers.
Even before Oklahoma cut state spending more than any other state, its high-poverty schools couldn’t come close to tackling the challenges of generational poverty or students who have survived multiple Adverse Childhood Experiences [ACE].
After all, Oklahoma is tied for first in the nation in youth who have endured four or more ACEs. And three Oklahoma towns were recently identified as the places with the lowest life expectancy in the United States. No. 1 was Stilwell where life expectancy is down to 56 years, or the levels of sub-Saharan third world countries.
The drop of life expectancy of uneducated Oklahomans – and others who live in the middle of Trump country – has been attributed to “deaths by despair.” The combination of opioids and the lack of hope have created a crisis that can no longer be ignored.
The experts who contributed to the conference did not want to diminish the importance of pharmaceutical companies pushing opioids for controlling pain, but it was noted that persons who have had six or more ACES are 4,600 times more likely to become addicted to drugs/opioids.
Click here to read the rest of John Thompson's article in the Oklahoma Observer.