Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fixing Poverty through Pharmaceuticals

An article in the NY Times this morning describes the growing trend to treat poor children with medication to modify their behavior at school.  It presents a doctor's and parents point of view that when a child is failing academically because of his behavior, there is little they feel they can do.  They have a point.

The achievement gap in education is about poverty, not teaching. Poor kids have much higher needs, due to a wide variety of circumstances correlated with poverty. Race to the top and NCLB, teacher accountability, test scores, etc. have done nothing to differentiate the classroom environment for them. They need smaller classes, more attention, more mentoring and nurturance. Requiring them to conform to behavioral expectations designed for middle class children sets them up for failure.

The sooner we as a society recognize this, and begin to put into place targeted, specialized support systems that identify and provide these children adequate environments that are responsive to their emotional and behavioral needs, the less drugs we'll need and better academic outcomes we'll see.

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