Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Medicated Education

School accountability laws and the consumption of psychostimulants, pdf
Farasat Bokhari, Helen Schneider, ht MR.
Over the past decade, several states introduced varying degrees of accountability systems for schools, which became federal law with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The intent of these accountability laws was to improve academic performance and to make school quality more observable. Nonetheless, schools have reacted to these pressures in several different ways, some of which were not intended…
Specifically, children in states with more stringent accountability laws are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and consequently prescribed psychostimulant drugs for controlling the symptoms.
Note that the drugs do work.  Students behave better and do better in school.  They are also less disruptive of other students.
However, it raises the question of why we live our lives.  Schools as a socializing agent have been noted before here.  But we used to say that the Soviets were cruel for jailing their dissenters in psychiatric wards.  This practice seems to be coming pretty close. As the wiki article notes: 
Psychiatry possesses a built-in capacity for abuse that is greater than in other areas of medicine. The diagnosis of mental disease allows the state to hold persons against their will and insist upon therapy in their interest and in the broader interests of society

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