Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld
is the author of eight books on education, including: "Is Public Education Necessary?"
"NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education," "The Whole Language/OBE Fraud" and
"Homeschooling: A Parents Guide to Teaching Children." His books are available on Amazon.com. Back issues of his incisive newsletter, The Blumenfeld Education Letter, are available online. More ↓Less ↑
A bill (HR 1170) to prevent schools from forcing parents to drug their kids diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 21 by a vote of 425 to 1. The legislation, the “Child Medication Safety Act of 2003″ (SB 1390) was introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., where it is being kept in cold storage.
The House passed the bill overwhelmingly – and with good reason. The forced drugging of American schoolchildren has become pandemic, and it is time to put a stop to this psychiatric abuse of American children.
But something happened to this bill on the way to the Senate. The pharmaceutical and mental-health lobby got to the senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pension (H.E.L.P.) Committee before the bill arrived. Democrat members of that committee include such liberal heavyweights as Ted Kennedy, Christopher Dodd, Conn., Tom Harkin, Iowa, Barbara Mikulski, Md., Jim Jeffords, Vt., John Edwards, N.C., and Hillary Clinton, N.Y. Concerned parents contacted Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd to get their support. So far, the reply has been negative. Yet, all of these senators are the most vociferous supporters of public education.
On Nov. 4, the Subcommittee on Substance Abuse held a hearing to which no parents supporting the bill were invited. The one parent who did attend was one acceptable to the mental-health lobby. That subcommittee is chaired by Sen. Mike DeWine, Republican from Ohio. The ranking member is Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
There are between 4 and 6 million schoolchildren now taking psychotropic drugs daily so that they can attend school. There must be something wrong with an education system that requires so many children to be drugged just to attend school.
Last year, I spent a week in Beijing, China. During that week, I visited a school where I was able to observe about 500 children doing their morning physical exercises in the schoolyard. I asked my host how many of these children were on Ritalin. He asked me what Ritalin was. He had never heard of it. In short, in China they don’t have ADD, and they don’t drug schoolchildren.
Are American children more mentally handicapped than Chinese children? Are they afflicted with a mental disease that is more prevalent in the United States than anywhere else on the globe?
Many parents, against their better judgment, have been forced by the schools to put their children on medication because teachers are finding it more and more difficult to handle their frustrated, angry pupils.
But why do these youngsters become behavioral problems? In many cases it’s because of how they were being taught to read. As an expert on the teaching of reading, I can attest that these children are the victims of the whole-language method that creates so much learning frustration that many children become disruptive and violent. For the school, drugs, not more effective teaching methods, are the only solution.
American children should not be required to ingest cocaine-like stimulants in order to let the teachers off the hook. Parents should not be forced to drug their children to satisfy the school’s dysfunctional curriculum.
There was no ADD or Ritalin when I was going to school in the 1930s and ’40s. And that’s because you simply could not have an attention deficit disorder in the kind of classrooms that existed then: clean, quiet and orderly. We sat in desks bolted to the floor, and the teacher was the focus of our attention. She taught everyone the same thing, using time-tested teaching methods that were rational and effective. There were no distractions. The walls were bare except for a picture of George Washington.
But let’s fast-forward to the classrooms of today. Not clean, quiet and orderly, but chaotic, messy and disorderly. Now children are seated around tables, pestering one another, socializing, coughing in each other’s faces. The walls are plastered with every kind of visual distraction – from Mickey Mouse to dinosaurs. The teacher is no longer the focus of attention. She’s a facilitator wandering around the room, using the most irrational methods of teaching. These classrooms are incubators of ADD.
Since it is unlikely that this chaotic classroom configuration will be changed by the educators or legislators, we can expect more ADD and ADHD in the future. But one thing can be done: The Congress can restore to parents their rights to govern their own children’s education and medication. Powerful psychotropic drugs have no place in sane, rational education.
Phone your senator and get them moving on this bill.