I GET IT! WE ARE JUST A BUNCH OF DUMMIES!
FLORIDA STATE LEGISLATORS STEP UP TO THE PLATE
By Beverly Eakman
May 12, 2005
Two weeks ago today, I was asked to testify, as a former teacher, at a legislative hearing in Tallahassee, Florida, concerning two pivotal pieces of legislation, one in the House (primary co-sponsor: State Rep. Gus Barreiro) and one in the Senate (sponsored by Victor D. Crist). Both related to mandatory psychiatric referrals and psychotropic drugging of children as a condition of attending school. The bills were remarkably well-written, concise and to the point. They hinged on full disclosure notices to parents concerning the subjective nature of psychiatric labels listed in the ever-expanding bible of the profession (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM), and on the right of parents to refuse both psychiatric referral and/or psychotropic drugging of their children.
On the face of it, there didn’t seem to be anything to debate. Parents were being given credit for average intelligence -- enough to make a determination as to whether a mental health referral or psychotropic drug is appropriate, and full disclosure attesting to the lack of medical validity behind psychiatric labels (i.e., virtually none can be validated via a blood test, x-ray, chemical analysis, or other visible diagnostic measure), including a warning that DSM labels may result in adverse repercussions when a child applies to a college or for a job.
Many of those fighting these bills were, of course, themselves parents, yet the mental health and psychopharmaceutical lobbies were apoplectic, school officials were furious, and spokespersons for various school-related professional organizations seethed. Debate on the bills produced standing-room-only crowds.
And for good reason. After some 40 years of lousy teacher training, lax discipline, deteriorating academic focus, ineffective fads, and federal legislation aimed at mainstreaming belligerent juveniles in educational facilities, schools have become unmanageable. From a public school official’s, or even a teacher’s, perspective, about the only recourse left for getting miscreants and children who aren’t learning out of the room is to refer them to a mental health worker or drug them into submission.
But back then, we weren’t so “enlightened.” My mother never had to wonder what was going on, because she always got an unsolicited report at 4:30 p.m. Had I thrown my sandwich in the trash can again? Had I excused myself from study hall to giggle in the bathroom with my best friend? Worn lipstick to class? Well … it would all come out at 4:30 when she came to pick me up. That was the kind of “behavior modification” teachers and parents employed to keep us youngsters in line -- frequent interface between our parents and teachers -- not mind-altering drugs and encounter sessions.
We got in trouble for the small things, before they could escalate -- like for telling a classmate to “shut up.” Well, if we were going to get read the riot act for saying “shut up,” we sure weren’t going to be using the other four-letter “s”-word anytime soon! One 6th-grade teacher confiscated all the girls’ purses because we were spending class time “showing off with them.” By the time I was teaching, however, that teacher could be fired for “disrespecting a pupil’s legitimate property without cause.” ....
PLEASE READ IT ALL!!!
VERY VERY WELL DONE!