Thursday, November 17, 2005

Of Interest To Both Parents And Educators

The controversy over medicating students in order to curb disruptive classroom behaviors continues with The United States Congress now weighing in: (emphasis added)
The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday barring schools from requiring hyperactive children to use drug treatments as a condition for attending classes.

Backers say the bill was designed to curb anecdotal but troubling reports of officials telling parents that disruptive kids must begin drug treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in order to stay in school.

Doctors routinely rely on teachers to identify troubling behavior that can be a sign of ADHD. But some schools have overstepped their bounds and coerced parents into starting children on medication.

“Sometimes officials even attempt to force parents into choosing between medicating their child and allowing that child to remain in the classroom. This is unconscionable,” says Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the bill’s main sponsor.

Nearly 4 million U.S. children under age 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD by 2004, according to the CDC.

Doctors wrote more than 5.6 million prescriptions of Adderall -- a drug used to treat ADHD -- during the first six months of 2005. That's a 15 percent increase over the same period a year before, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical information and consulting company.It remains unclear how often schools have tried to make medication a condition of attending class.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, says the House Education and Workforce Committee, which he leads, has received “a number of complaints” from parents.

The bill easily passed 407-12, with one member voting “present,” but drew criticism from some lawmakers.
Read the whole piece here.

The proposed law still needs to be passed by the Senate, but my intuition is that this bill will wind-up being approved by that body. My guess is that President Bush will sign it, thereby making it the law of the land.

I don't think that the law will be overturned in the courts.

This one is a tough call. As a practicing classroom teacher who serves 176 children every school day, I need my pupils to be under control and for the classroom atmosphere to be conducive to the learning process.

But I am also a strong advocate for parental rights. After all, as a public school teacher, I work for them. I don't much care for the idea of parents being forced to medicate their children.

On the other hand, no child should have the right to disrupt the lesson and thereby deprive other children of their right to maximize the educational opportunities that our school system offers.

There are no easy answers.
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