Thursday, November 18, 2004


Two particularly dangerous and wacky education matters are being battled out in the halls of Congress in these lame-duck weeks. The urgent call has gone out for concerned citizens to contact their senators and representatives on these. To do that, visit www.EdAction.org, an excellent grassroots group that’s getting important results and doing a lot of good:

1. Universal Mental Health Screening:

There’s major, major egg on educational faces over the ADHD scandal, misdiagnosing and overdrugging kids. This latest proposal would dwarf that, bigtime. With ADHD, educators used amateur diagnosis and all kinds of smarmy coercion on parents to get kids on Ritalin for their ‘’learning disability’’ . . . when the truth is, nine out of 10 kids labeled with LD’s don’t have them at all; they’ve just been in schools that have failed to teach them to read, write, do math, and think properly.

Now the government nannies want the right to force ‘’mental health screening’’ on all 54 million American children and 6 million adults in our schools and preschools. With their track record, then 90 percent of them will get permanent false labels as having ‘’mental health problems,’’ There are likely to be all kinds of inappropriate pop psychological ‘’interventions’’ and forced compliance with prescriptions for psychotropic drugs despite the fact that most drugs that may work pretty well on adults have perplexing paradoxical counter-indications for kids.


Granted, there are kids with depression, bipolar disorder and plenty of other mental-health issues. But they have the Three P’s already in place to meet their needs: Parents, Pediatricians, and Other Professionals. There’s encouraging news from specialty preschools which can get kids with special behavior problems ‘’kindergarten-ready’’ with smart techniques, not ‘’sandbox psychiatry’’ and drugs. It’s not as if the private sector isn’t already helping, and then some.

Do we really want the government, that has already shown it doesn’t ‘’get it’’ about ADHD, now getting carte blanche to call all kinds of children ‘’crazy’’ and making THEM get on psychotropic drugs, too? Think of the privacy problems we’d have if this sensitive psychiatric data is shared, as it will be, from government agency to government agency to college admissions office to future employer. Think of the Medicaid costs and all that additional dough going to pharmaceutical companies for, frankly, no good reason other than income stream. The list of sad, bad consequences just goes on and on.

You know, when I was a kid, I used to dress myself funny -- a walking fashion faux pas. I had an invisible friend. I fidgeted. I ‘’talked out’’ a lot. I made animals out of straight pins and erasers. I spent a lot of time in class staring out of the windows and humming. Everybody told me all the time that I was ‘’insane.’’ But somehow, some way, I wound up as a commended scholar in the National Merit competition, and was named to Mortar Board in college.

I have no doubt, though, that if this cheesy universal mental-health screening bureaucracy had been in place when I was a kid, I would have been labeled cuckoo, put on drugs or given shock treatment or whatever, had my brain cells permanently fried, and that would’ve been all she wrote . . . literally. I’d never have developed into a writer if my ‘’unique’’ behavior hadn’t been tolerated and, indeed, encouraged, in school as well as at home. My parents ‘’got it’’ about me because they LOVED me. My behavior wasn’t seen as weakness, but as evidence of strength – of creativity -- and my parents made sure it was protected. One of the worst features of this proposed new system, you see, is that parents would be totally out of the loop in defining and controlling their own children’s mental health status and responses thereto. Now THAT is the most dangerous matter of all.

So we’re talkin’ serious, here. Please contact your senators and representatives and urge them to deep-six this horrible idea, STAT. We need to de-fund the New Freedom Commission -- sounds like a feminine hygiene product -- but actually, it’s the bureaucracy that would put universal mental health screening and treatment programs in place.

The real crazies are the control freaks who want to standardize, homogenize, stifle, dumb down, oppress and intimidate individuality, creativity and intellectual rigor in our schools with whacked out ideas like this. We’d be . . . crazy . . . to let ‘em.

2. Substituting Anti-American Propaganda for American History and Civics Education

Senators and representatives also need to be urged to drop-kick the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad American History and Civics Education Act of 2004, H.R. 5360. It’s being pushed by a global-village touting, world citizenship-promoting, limousine liberal organization called the Center for Civic Education (www.civiced.org).

They forgot to notice that in 1996, the Senate voted 99-1 to LOSE the truly deplorable, anti-American history ‘’standards’’ that now form the basis for the ‘’civics education’’ they would like to foist on America’s schools. These ‘’standards’’ ignored, misstated or minimized many of our most cherished principles, including national sovereignty and inalienable rights; left out minor details like the Second Amendment; implied that the Bill of Rights is an irrelevant non sequitur from the past, and so forth.

They sucked. We booted them. But now . . . THEY’RE BAAAAAAACK!

This radical group put all that rejected propaganda back into their curriculum, cynically mislabeled ‘’We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution.’’ And now they’re trying to get Congress to authorize the funding of 12 ‘’federal academies’’ that would teach students and teachers allllllll about their greasy little lies and distortions, and then spread it across the land under the guise of ‘’best practices.’’

Eww! Eww! Ewwwww!

These same folks forgot to notice another minor detail called the Tenth Amendment, which prohibits federal intrusions into education, since that’s one of the many matters our Constitution leaves to the states. That gives them, in the words of the ancient scholars, a big, fat ‘’F’’ on their OWN knowledge of the Constitution!

Again, seek more information from www.EdAction.org, and take time to urge your senators and House reps to speak and vote against this. They also should de-fund the Center for Civic Education and all of its evil spawn, which should, excuse the pun, be history. And THAT would be, in the words of the OTHER ancient scholars, ‘’way wicked cool.’’

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