News & Views
NEWS & VIEWS - FEBRUARY 2004
Jan 30, 2004, 14:39
UNDERSTANDING OF DIFFERENCES IN LEARNING
(October 3, 2003) Donald Grace announced the completion of his first month as Chief Development Officer for All Kinds of Minds, 919-933-8082,www.allkindsofminds.org/,a non-profit institute for the understanding learning differences. The institute was founded by pediatrician Dr. Mel Levine, author of A Mind at a Time, and The Myth of Laziness. Grace welcomes questions about the institute’s effort to teach teachers to work with children’s individual differences rather than resorting to the usual custom of using blanket labels for children having trouble in school.
ADOLESCENT STRESS CAUSES BRAIN DEFICIENCY IN ADULTHOOD
(November 8, 2003) Studies by Susan Andersen, PhD, and colleagues of McLean Hospital show that stressful events experienced during adolescence can lead to enduring changes in brain structure in adulthood. Researchers discovered that adult rats exposed to a social stress during adolescence (ages approximating 13 to 15 years in humans) showed a significant decrease in a specific protein, synaptophysin, found in the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory. The loss of this protein is at least as great as that occurring in animals exposed to more severe stressors at a younger age, suggesting that adolescents may be more vulnerable to the effects of stress than younger animals. These findings demonstrate that exposure to a significant stress during adolescence can have enduring consequences on the connections formed in the hippocampus in adulthood. This data may suggest why early traumatic stress, such as physical or sexual abuse or neglect, is associated with a decrease in the size of the hippocampus in adulthood.
DEBRIEFING FOR TRAUMA NOT EFFECTIVE?
(December 20, 2003) Science News, Vol. 164, p. 398, reported a review in the November Psychological Science in the Public Interest in which Richard J. McNally of Harvard University and others asserted that “most published studies show that people who are debriefed individually or in groups just after a trauma fare no better than do those who aren’t debriefed…. No evidence exists that debriefing reduces the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, and some investigations suggest that debriefing distorts the natural course of psychological healing after a severe trauma….”
MOST TEENS REGRET EARLY SEX
(December 22, 2003) The Washington Times reported a poll conducted during August and September by International Communications Research, an independent research firm, that found, “two-thirds of U.S. teenagers who have had sexual relations wish they had waited longer.” 1,000 young people ages 12 to 19 and 1,000 adults ages 20 and above were surveyed. The two key findings were: “teens express more cautious attitudes and values toward sex than is perhaps generally believed,” and, “parents continue to underestimate the influence they have” on whether their child becomes sexually active. The article concludes, “Better than nine out of 10 teens and adults say society needs to provide teens with a clear message that they should delay sex until they have, at least, completed high school.”
KIPP SCHOOLS--OFFERING A BETTER FUTURE FOR AT RISK TEENS?
(December 29, 2003) The San Francisco Chronicle reported on a new wave of teaching that advocates claim is changing the lives of children across the country sfgate.com. Founded in New York City in 1994, the Knowledge is Power Program “KIPP” has emerged as a leading model in education reform. Hailed by the White House, American Federation of Teachers and prominent business leaders, KIPP has drawn in millions in donations for doing what urban educators have been trying to do in the five decades since Brown vs Board of Education: give poor children an equal shot at college. The concept behind the program is to teach character as well as academics with college becoming as common a concept as recess. By the time they are ready for high school, 99 percent of KIPP students enter prestigious high schools on scholarship. In the past four years, KIPP has opened 32 public schools in 26 cities.
S. FLORIDA TEEN GIRLS DISCOVERING 'BISEXUAL CHIC’ TREND
(December 30, 2003) The Sun-Sentinel reported, on the rising debate over whether a kiss is just a kiss when peers goad two teenage girls into it during a party. Jessie Gilliam, program manager for Youth Resource -- a national Web site created by and for gay, lesbian and bisexual young people -- said the trend is known as "bisexual chic", or in many cases, "faux bisexual”. It usually starts with some hand-holding or grinding on the dance floor, then progresses from there,” she said. “It's a countrywide thing.” Sharon Friedlander, head of guidance for Broward public schools, said adults in the school system are well aware of students' growing flirtation with bisexuality. She said questioning sexuality is part of growing up, it’s just starting at a younger age.
REACHING PROBLEM KIDS WITHOUT DRUGS OR LABELS
(January 1, 2004) Education Week, in an excerpt from the book, Teaching the Restless: One School’s Remarkable No-Ritalin Approach to Helping Children Learn and Succeed, www.teachermagazine.org, quotes author Chris Mercogliano, who is also Co-Director of the Albany Free School in New York, as saying “It is my belief that they are not suffering from an organic disorder. Rather, their dysfunctional and antisocial behaviors are distress signals: symptomatic expressions of unmet needs and emotional turbulence—not disease.” He sees the problem is not with the students but with “school environments that fail to support their unique needs and natures.”
ZERO TOLERANCE = EXTREME DISCIPLINE (January 2, 2004) USA Today, www.usatoday.com, quoted a National Center on Education report that stated "more than 80% of schools employ some sort of zero tolerance for both serious and trivial infractions." The article suggests the evidence shows zero-tolerance policies don't reduce misconduct, and may produce other negative consequences. Examples given were: at the invitation of a principal, police in Goose Creek, S.C. stormed a high school in November, forcing students to the floor at gunpoint and handcuffed many in a futile search for drugs; a Florida boy was kicked out of school for a doodle that showed one stick figure shooting another; and in Texas, a teen was suspended and arrested for violating his school's drug policy by loaning his inhaler to a classmate who was having a severe asthmatic attack. On the other hand, defenders believe the policy sends a signal that violence and drug use won't be tolerated, and the vast majority of schools apply the policy in reasonable ways.
DOCTORS’ URGE SODA BAN IN SCHOOLS TO FIGHT OBESITY
(January 5, 2004) According to the Boston Globe, the American Academy of Pediatrics had announced that soft drinks should be eliminated from schools to help tackle the nation's obesity epidemic. In the policy statement, academy doctors “emphasize the notion that every school district shares a responsibility for the nutritional health of its students. Massachusetts introduced legislation last year to limit the amount of fatty foods and sugary drinks in schools. www.boston.com
PRINCIPAL RESIGNS AFTER DRUG RAID
(January 6, 2004) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution www.ajc.com, reported a drug raid on Nov. 5, 2003 at Stratford High School in S.C. that led to the resignation of the principal who asked Goose Creek police to raid the school after receiving reports of marijuana sales on campus. Police allegedly used excessive force and racism when they drew their guns on students, many of whom are black. No one was arrested.
17TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE ON CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE SYSTEM RESEARCH
(January 6, 2004) Registration is now open for Substance Abuse & Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) 17th Annual Research Conference, "A System of Care for Children's Mental Health: Expanding the Research Base," which will take place on February 29 - March 3, 2003, at the Tampa Marriott Waterside in Tampa, Florida. “This annual conference has become the principal national forum for exploring research and evaluation findings related to the implementation of systems of care to meet the needs of children with serious emotional or behavioral problems and their families…The conference serves as a forum to share research findings, work in progress, and new strategies for applied, practical systems of care research.” Conference information is at: rtckids.fmhi.usf.edu, and registration can be done online at rtckids.fmhi.usf.edu.
TRAILS END PARENTS' HOPES FOR AUTISM DRUG
(January 6, 2004) The New York Times reported that “the largest and most definitive clinical trial of secretin has been completed, and it, too, showed that the drug was no better than a placebo in improving the social interaction of young children with autism.” The failure, announced by the manufacturing company, Repligen, of Waltham, Mass., “casts doubt on whether secretin will ever get to market as a treatment, dealing a blow to scores of parents and some doctors who advocated its development.” www.nytimes.com
INHALANT USE INCREASES
(January 6, 2004) A rise in inhalant use has been reported by the NIPC Inhalant Update www.inhalants.org, 800-269-4237, based on the latest Substance Abuse & Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use & Health, NSDUH. “Lifetime inhalant use for 12 to 17 year olds rose from 9.0% in 2001 to about 10.5% in 2002 [and] lifetime use among 12 to 17 year olds almost doubled between 1999 and 2002 (5.4% to 10.5%). The mean age of first time users declined to 15.7 years… not only is this the youngest mean age of inhalant initiation since 1963 but, in 2001, it is the youngest age of initiation of any substance in the current survey” www.pridesurveys.com. The article reported statistics documenting a much greater use of inhalants than any other illegal drug among this age group, and cited many recent newspaper reports of inhalant deaths and inhalant related accidents. It also referred to a decline in perceptions of the dangers of inhalants among students, stating that historically, after such declines, there is a rise in inhalant use. Since inhalant use tends not to show up on the usual toxicology screens, resources were given for labs that can test for inhalant use: ToxTraps, 800-677-8727; AccuChem, 972-234-5412; and National Medical Services Lab, 800-522-6671.
JUSTICE DEPT REFUSES WWASPS INVESTIGATION REQUEST
(January 9, 2004) The Washington Times, www.washtimes.com, reported the US Justice Department has declined a November 3, 2003 request from Congressman George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to launch a formal investigation of the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS). The reason given was the authority given the US Justice Department “does not extend to facilities outside the United States or purely privately owned facilities.”
GAP YEAR THROUGH STUDENT CONSERVATION ASSOC
(January 10, 2004) Shaundrea Kenyon, Recruitment Operations Director for The Student Conservation Association, Charlestown, New Hampshire, 603-543-1700, www.theSCA.org, announced their program this year for students looking for different experiences after high school or to prepare for college. They can work for up to a month “conducting vital conservation projects for natural resource partners.” The summer Conservation Crew program is for 15-19 year olds, and the Conservation Internship program is for those 18 years of age and up.
A BULLY’S FUTURE, FROM HARD LIFE TO HARD TIME
(January 13, 2004) The New York Times reported that researchers insist bullies are not born, they are made. And, they “can and should be unmade before the behavior becomes so ingrained that it shapes their personalities and behavior for life.” In a nationwide survey of 15,686 students in sixth through 10th grade in public and private schools, Dr. Tonja R. Nansel and colleagues at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that children who bullied and their victims were more likely to show increasingly violent and antisocial behaviors than those who had never been involved in bullying. Even preschoolers can be bullies. www.nytimes.com
BRITAIN HAS TOO MANY GRADUATES, EMPLOYERS WARN
(January 20, 2004) The Education Independent reported that more than two-thirds of graduate recruiters believe Britain has too many university students. When surveyed, 60 percent of the country’s largest employers said the increase in student numbers had led to a “dumbing down” of standards. These figures put business leaders in direct opposition with Tony Blair’s goal of a 50 percent increase of students in higher education by the end of the decade. education.independent.co.uk
CASE MAY BOOST FUNDING FOR PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS
(January 20, 2004) The Christian Science Monitor reported on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up the Hibbs v. Winn case, whose central issue is whether federal courts can review determinations made by state judges about whether tax-credit systems violate the separation of church and state. If the Supreme Court rules in Arizona's favor, it will eliminate an entire level of judicial review for those opposing parochial school tax-credit plans, while offering increased government funding of religious schools who have state legislative and state judiciary support. www.csmonitor.com