Archive | January, 2014

University of Florida tries the online counseling program Therapist Assisted Online (TAO)

20 Jan

When parents are packing their children off to college, some are sending children to school who have some severe mental health and emotional issues. Trip Gabriel has an article in the New York Times which outlines the issues some students face while they are at college. In Mental Health Needs Growing At Colleges Gabriel reports:

Stony Brook is typical of American colleges and universities these days, where national surveys show that nearly half of the students who visit counseling centers are coping with serious mental illness, more than double the rate a decade ago. More students take psychiatric medication, and there are more emergencies requiring immediate action.
“It’s so different from how people might stereotype the concept of college counseling, or back in the ’70s students coming in with existential crises: who am I?” said Dr. Hwang, whose staff of 29 includes psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and social workers. “Now they’re bringing in life stories involving extensive trauma, a history of serious mental illness, eating disorders, self-injury, alcohol and other drug use.”
Experts say the trend is partly linked to effective psychotropic drugs (Wellbutrin for depression, Adderall for attention disorder, Abilify for bipolar disorder) that have allowed students to attend college who otherwise might not have functioned in a campus setting.
There is also greater awareness of traumas scarcely recognized a generation ago and a willingness to seek help for those problems, including bulimia, self-cutting and childhood sexual abuse.
The need to help this troubled population has forced campus mental health centers — whose staffs, on average, have not grown in proportion to student enrollment in 15 years — to take extraordinary measures to make do. Some have hospital-style triage units to rank the acuity of students who cross their thresholds. Others have waiting lists for treatment — sometimes weeks long — and limit the number of therapy sessions.
Some centers have time only to “treat students for a crisis, bandaging them up and sending them out,” said Denise Hayes, the president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors and the director of counseling at the Claremont Colleges in California.
“It’s very stressful for the counselors,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like why you got into college counseling.”
A recent survey by the American College Counseling Association found that a majority of students seek help for normal post-adolescent trouble like romantic heartbreak and identity crises. But 44 percent in counseling have severe psychological disorders, up from 16 percent in 2000, and 24 percent are on psychiatric medication, up from 17 percent a decade ago.
The most common disorders today: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, attention disorders, self-injury and eating disorders.
If a student has had prior problems, the student and family should have a plan for dealing with issues like depression or eating disorders while the student is at college. Often that might include therapy sessions with a counselor near the college. Often, students and families do not want to seek help because many feel there is a stigma to mental illness.
Megan O’Neill reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Campus Psychological Counseling Goes Online for Students at U. of Florida which discussed the online counseling program Therapist Assisted Online (TAO):
Therapist Assisted Online, or TAO, began at Florida this past fall. Designed specifically for students battling anxiety—a primary mental-health issue on college campuses—it is the first research-supported program of its kind in the United States, Ms. Benton believes.
In the pilot program, 26 students treated under TAO showed more improvement, calculated using a system called Behavioral Health Measure­-20, than 26 participants in the in-person group-therapy sessions at the counseling center. The students treated under TAO also made more progress than about 700 students receiving individual in-person therapy.
“The results blew me away, not to mention the fact that it stunned all of my counselors, who I think are still trying to come to terms with what happened,” Ms. Benton says.
The director is the first to point out the limitations of the pilot. Both the student patients and the counselors self-selected, indicating a certain level of motivation and comfort with new technology. The pool of participants was small. Other research studies show that online patients experience results equal to those of in-person patients.
Still, the model could spell major change for mental-health services in higher education, where the number of students in need of treatment and the severity of diagnoses has climbed steadily during the past decade, according to professionals in the field…
TAO consists of seven interactive treatment modules meant to be completed during a seven-week period. It includes assessments of current symptoms and level of function, as well as cognitive–behavorial and mindfulness exercises. Student patients participate in 10- to 15-¬minute video consultations with their counselors once a week, and receive daily encouraging text messages.
The online-treatment program falls between self-help and traditional therapy, Ms. Benton says. The relationship between the counselor and the patient remains paramount. The weekly video consultations and the content of the modules work in concert.
Counselors monitor progress, and layers of risk management are in place. Participating students must provide emergency contact information and authorize the counseling center to use it, if necessary.
Jurisdictional Issues
Much of the technical work is being done within the E-Learning, Technology, and Creative Services division of the university’s College of Education. Glenn E. Good, dean of the college and a licensed psychologist, estimates that the university has spent about $200,000 to develop TAO.
Officials are exploring the licensing potential of the program, he says, although the priority is to produce an effective, replicable treatment rather than a profitable business.
TAO and other types of online psychotherapy are inappropriate for seriously ill patients, counselors at the University of Florida and others say. Moreover, the regulation of mental-health professionals in the United States is done at the state level, creating geographic limitations even though the treatment is done online.
“There are interjurisdictional problems,” says John C. Norcross, a researcher and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. “If you launch a website in Pennsylvania and the therapist you are talking to is in Florida and the patient is Louisiana, it is a regulatory and malpractice nightmare.”
Where the licensing and regulation of mental-health professionals is done at the national level, such as in Australia and Britain, online psychotherapy has been in use for years, Mr. Norcross says.
Nevertheless, TAO promises clear advantages for mental-health professionals in higher education and their patients, experts say. They cite time and cost savings, the flexible and discreet nature of delivery, and the potential scalability….

The University of Florida describes TAO:

What is TAO?
Tao is a seven-week, interactive, web-based program that provides assistance to help overcome anxiety.
TAO is based on well research and highly effective strategies for helping anxiety.
Each of the seven weeks, participants will watch videos, complete exercises, and meeting with a counselor via video conferencing for a 10-15 minute consultation.
Weekly exercises taking approximately 30-40 minutes to complete.

What are the experiences of UF students using TAO?
TAO Pilot OutcomesDuring the Fall 2013 Semester, we compared outcomes for individual face-to-face psychotherapy, group psychotherapy and Therapist Assisted Online for students with anxiety across seven sessions.
All participants completed the Behavioral Health Measure-20 (BHM-20) prior to each session.
On the BHM-20 higher scores indicate fewer symptoms and better functioning. The graph on the right shows change across time on the anxiety subscale of the BHM-20. On the BHM-20 a score of 2.6 indicates normal non-problematic functioning.

Who is eligible?
Currently enrolled students who want help with anxiety and worry.
Students who have access to computer with webcam.
Students who are not experiencing severe depression.
Students without a current substance abuse problem.
If taking medication, must have been on the same dose for at least one month prior to starting the treatment.
18 years old or older.
Currently living within 50 miles of Gainesville.
How do I sign up?
Call the Counseling and Wellness Center and ask to schedule a TAO triage appointment.
If you are already seeing a counselor, then tell your counselor you are interested.

We look forward to helping with your anxiety in TAO!

Parents must recognize the signs of distress and get help for their child. If you are a student in distress, get help because there are many different therapies to get you back on track.

Resources for Parents & Students

◦National Resources

◦National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) hour hotline

◦Mental Health America screenings for depression and other mental health conditions Click on the Take a Screening link under Finding Help
◦mpowersheets is a youth awareness campaign that helps fight stigma

◦The Virginia Tech Tragedy: Tips and Resources

◦Active Minds to Peer student support and advocacy group on college campuses

◦NAMI on Campus

Student-run organizations that provide support, education, and advocacy

◦Disability and Civil Rights Resources rights under ADA and how to file a discrimination complaint

◦Education and Community Integration of importance of community integration for those with mental health conditions

◦Community Integration Tools College Experience: Tips for Reducing
Stress and Getting the Accommodations You Need

◦Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation on reasonable accommodations

◦Job Accommodation Network on accommodations in educational settings

◦Association on Higher Education and Disability

◦Office of Civil Rights, Department of Education form and procedures

Trauma Resources

◦Understanding Mental Illness After the Virginia Tech Tragedy for dealing with trauma as well as educational resources

◦Higher Education Resources on Violence

◦Preventing Violence and Promoting Safety in Higher Education Settings

Evaluation Resources

◦Guide by Department of Education guide to evaluating drug and alcohol prevention projects

◦Resources through the Higher Education Center

Mental Health Screening Tools

◦Screening For Mental Health non-profit with college screening programs

◦Teenscreen University’s mental health screening program

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Brown University – Hasbro Children’s Hospital study: School violence is a very big issue

19 Jan

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) writes about school violence:

In the United States, an estimated 50 million students are enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Another 15 million students attend colleges and universities across the country. While U.S. schools remain relatively safe, any amount of violence is unacceptable. Parents, teachers, and administrators expect schools to be safe havens of learning. Acts of violence can disrupt the learning process and have a negative effect on students, the school itself, and the broader community.
2013 Understanding School Violence Fact Sheet Adobe PDF file [PDF 250KB]
School violence is youth violence that occurs on school property, on the way to or from school or school-sponsored events, or during a school-sponsored event.
What is School Violence?
School violence is a subset of youth violence, a broader public health problem. Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, against another person, group, or community, with the behavior likely to cause physical or psychological harm. Youth Violence typically includes persons between the ages of 10 and 24, although pathways to youth violence can begin in early childhood.
Examples of violent behavior include:
Fighting (e.g., punching, slapping, kicking)
Weapon use
Electronic aggression
Gang violence
School violence occurs:
On school property
On the way to or from school
During a school-sponsored event
On the way to or from a school-sponsored event
Data Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Overview. Available from URL:

School violence is a growing issue.

Linda Carroll of NBC News reported in the story, School violence lands more than 90,000 a year in the ER, study finds:

Despite all the lip service given to battling bullying, many kids are still being seriously hurt while on school grounds, a new study shows. Each year more than 90,000 school children suffer “intentional” injuries severe enough to land them in the emergency room, according to the study published in Pediatrics.
Though there was a decrease in the number of intentional injuries at school over the last 10 years, it was minor, said study co-author Dr. Siraj Amanullah, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the Alpert Medical School at Brown University.
“We were surprised,” Amanullah said. “With so much emphasis on school safety and bullying now, we expected a bigger decline. Ninety-thousand per year is quite huge.”
And keep in mind, Amanullah said, the study was only looking at kids who turned up in the ER. This could just be the tip of the iceberg.
“Bullying is so underreported,” said Amanullah, adding that children are still reluctant to tell anyone because often little gets done about it. “We were hoping this study would bring more attention to the problem.”
Amanullah and his colleagues pored through data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System — All Injury Program collected from January of 2001 through December of 2008. The ER reports include a plethora of detail, including the type of injury, whether it occurred at school and whether it was the result of an accident or was intentional.
While cuts and bruises were the most common injuries at 40 percent, fractures accounted for 12 percent, brain injuries for 10 percent and sprains and strains another 7 percent. The vast majority of injuries — 96 percent — were the result of an assault, with most perpetrators identified as friends or acquaintances. A full 10 percent of the assaults involved multiple perpetrators.
Part of the problem may be the adults that kids model themselves after. An article published in the same issue of Pediatrics reported that bullying behavior by coaches is quite high — and that the schools often make excuses for the behavior if it’s a winning coach.
A survey cited in the article found that 45 percent of kids “reported verbal misconduct by coaches, including name-calling and insulting them during play.”
During the study period, a total of 7,397,301 injuries occurred at school, of which 736,014 were intentional. The new study shows “that almost 10 percent of injuries are intentional, which means there’s a lot of violence going on in the schools that doesn’t include football, or hockey, or volleyball or tripping and falling and getting hurt,” said Patrick Tolan, a professor at the University of Virginia and director of Youth-Nex, the U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.
Part of the solution may be increased monitoring of the kids, Tolan said. “Every school should assume they have an issue,” he added. “They should be looking at where and how both intentional and unintentional injuries are occurring….”


Emergency Department Visits Resulting From Intentional Injury In and Out of School
1. Siraj Amanullah, MD, MPHa,b,c,
2. Julia A. Heneghan, MDc,d,
3. Dale W. Steele, MD, MSa,b,
4. Michael J. Mello, MD, MPHa,c, and
5. James G. Linakis, PhD, MDa,b,c
+ Author Affiliations
1. Departments of aEmergency Medicine and
2. bPediatrics, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island;
3. cInjury Prevention Center, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island; and
4. dDepartment of Pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Previous studies have reported concerning numbers of injuries to children in the school setting. The objective was to understand temporal and demographic trends in intentional injuries in the school setting and to compare these with intentional injuries outside the school setting.
METHODS: Data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program from 2001 to 2008 were analyzed to assess emergency department visits (EDVs) after an intentional injury.
RESULTS: There were an estimated 7 397 301 total EDVs due to injuries sustained at school from 2001 to 2008. Of these, an estimated 736 014 (10%) were reported as intentional (range: 8.5%–10.7% for the study time period). The overall risk of an EDV after an intentional injury in school was 2.33 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.93–2.82) when compared with an EDV after an intentional injury outside the school setting. For intentional injury–related EDVs originating in the school setting, multivariate regression identified several demographic risk factors: 10- to 14-year-old (odds ratio [OR]: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.10–2.27) and 15- to 19-year-old (OR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.01–2.82) age group, black (OR: 4.14; 95% CI: 2.94–5.83) and American Indian (OR: 2.48; 95% CI: 2.06–2.99) race, and Hispanic ethnicity (OR: 3.67; 95% CI: 2.02–6.69). The odds of hospitalization resulting from intentional injury–related EDV compared with unintentional injury–related EDVs was 2.01 (95% CI: 1.50–2.69) in the school setting. These odds were found to be 5.85 (95% CI: 4.76–7.19) in the outside school setting.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest a need for additional prevention strategies addressing school-based intentional injuries.

Here is the press release from Hasbro Children’s Hospital:

Hasbro Children’s Hospital National Study Finds High Number of Pediatric Injuries Caused by Violence at School
Siraj Amanullah, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine attending physician at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, recently led a study that found children between the ages of five and 19 still experience a substantial number of intentional injuries while at school. The study, titled “Emergency Department Visits Resulting from Intentional Injury In and Out of School,” has been published online ahead of print in the journal Pediatrics.
Amanullah’s team analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program from 2001 to 2008 to assess emergency department (ED) visits after an intentional injury. Of an estimated 7.39 million emergency department visits due to injuries occurring at school, approximately 736,014 (10 percent) were reported as intentional, such as those from bullying and peer-to-peer violence.
“This study is the first of its kind to report such a national estimate,” said Amanullah. “The 10 percent number may not seem large, but it is alarmingly high when you consider that such a significant number of intentional injuries are occurring in the school setting, where safety measures meant to prevent these sorts of injuries, are already in place.”
The study also identified gender and age disparities. Boys were most likely to be identified as at risk for intentional injury-related ED visits from within the school setting, along with all students in the 10- to 14-year age group; whereas girls were most at risk for intentional injury-related ED visits from outside of the school setting, along with the 15- to 19-year age group.
Additionally, both African-American and Hispanic ethnicities were found to be associated with higher risks for intentional injury in the school setting compared to outside school. “The important point about these disparities related to specific ethnicities and specific age groups is that the findings suggest that preventive safety efforts in the school setting may need to be tailored for the groups that carry much of this injury burden,” said Amanullah.
James Linakis, MD, PhD, associate director of pediatric emergency medicine at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study, added, “We know that the risk of hospitalization was found to be higher from intentional injury-related ED visits versus unintentional injuries.” Linakis continued, “In supervised environments such as schools, we have a great opportunity to implement additional prevention strategies and reduce the number of seriously injured children who we are seeing in emergency departments nationwide.”
The study highlights the continued public health impact of bullying and peer-to-peer violence. While there are substantial numbers of emergency department visits due to intentional injuries occurring in U.S. schools, there are still likely many others that do not result in ED visits.
Michael Mello, MD, MPH, director of the Injury Prevention Center at Hasbro Children’s Hospital who also contributed to the study, added a reminder that these injuries not only affect the physical health, but also the emotional health of children, families and both victim and perpetrator. “As parents, guardians and physicians we need to keep talking to our children and patients about this physical and mental health burden. It is our responsibility to address the issue of violence and bullying, both in and out of school, just like prevention efforts for any other medical illness,” said Mello.–Caused-by-Violence-at-School/#null

One of the best concise guides to preventing school violence is the National PTA Checklist.

The National PTA Checklist recommends the following actions:

1. Talk to Your Children
Keeping the lines of communication open with your children and teens is an important step to keeping involved in their schoolwork, friends, and activities. Ask open-ended questions and use phrases such as “tell me more” and “what do you think?” Phrases like these show your children that you are listening and that you want to hear more about their opinions, ideas, and how they view the world. Start important discussions with your children—about violence, smoking, drugs, sex, drinking, death—even if the topics are difficult or embarrassing. Don’t wait for your children or teens to come to you.
2. Set Clear Rules and Limits for Your Children
Children need clearly defined rules and limits set for them so that they know what is expected of them and the consequences for not complying. When setting family rules and limits, be sure children understand the purpose behind the rules and be consistent in enforcing them.
Discipline is more effective if children have been involved in establishing the rules and, oftentimes, in deciding the consequences. Remember to be fair and flexible—as your children grow older, they become ready for expanded rights and changes in rules and limits. Show your children through your actions how to adhere to rules and regulations, be responsible, have empathy toward others, control anger, and manage stress.
3. Know the Warning Signs
Knowing what’s normal behavior for your son or daughter can help you recognize even small changes in behavior and give you an early warning that something is troubling your child. Sudden changes—from subtle to dramatic—should alert parents to potential problems. These could include withdrawal from friends, decline in grades, abruptly quitting sports or clubs the child had previously enjoyed, sleep disruptions, eating problems, evasiveness, lying, and chronic physical complaints (stomachache or headaches).
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Parent; Know When to Intervene
Parents need to step in and intervene when children exhibit behavior or attitudes that could potentially harm them or others. And you don’t have to deal with problems alone—the most effective interventions have parent, school, and health professionals working together to provide on-going monitoring and support.
5. Stay Involved in Your Child’s School
Show your children you believe education is important and that you want your children to do their best in school by being involved in their education. Get to know your child’s teachers and help them get to know you and your child. Communicate with your child’s teachers throughout the school year, not just when problems arise. Stay informed of school events, class projects, and homework assignments. Attend all parent orientation activities and parent-teacher conferences. Volunteer to assist with school functions and join your local PTA. Help your children seek a balance between schoolwork and outside activities. Parents also need to support school rules and goals.
6. Join Your PTA or a Violence Prevention Coalition
According to the National Crime Prevention Council, the crime rate can decrease by as much as 30 percent when a violence prevention initiative is a community-wide effort. All parents, students, school staff, and members of the community need to be a part of creating safe school environments for our children. Many PTAs and other school-based groups are working to identify the problems and causes of school violence and possible solutions for violence prevention.
7. Help to Organize a Community Violence Prevention Forum
Parents, school officials, and community members working together can be the most effective way to prevent violence in our schools.
8. Help Develop A School Violence Prevention and Response Plan
School communities that have violence prevention plans and crisis management teams in place are more prepared to identify and avert potential problems and to know what to do when a crisis happens. The most effective violence prevention and response plans are developed in cooperation with school and health officials, parents, and community members. These plans include descriptions of school safety policies, early warning signs, intervention strategies, emergency response plans, and post-crisis procedures.
9. Know How to Deal With the Media in a Crisis
Good public relations and media relations start with understanding how the media works and what they expect from organization’s that issue press releases, hold press conferences, and distribute media kits.
10. Work to Influence Lawmakers
Writing an editorial for the local newspaper, holding a petition drive, speaking before a school board meeting, or sending a letter to your legislator can be effective ways to voice your opinion and gain support from decision makers for violence prevention programs in your community. Working with other concerned parents, teachers, and community members, you can influence local, state and even federal decisions that affect the education, safety, and well-being of our children.

School violence is a complex set of issues and there is no one solution. The school violence issue mirrors the issue of violence in the larger society. Trying to decrease violence requires a long-term and sustained focus from parents, schools, law enforcement, and social service agencies.

A Dozen Things Students Can Do to Stop School Violence

A Dozen Things. Teachers Can Do To Stop School Violence.

Preventing School Violence: A Practical Guide


Violence against teachers is becoming a bigger issue

Hazing remains a part of school culture

FEMA issues Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans

Study: 1 in 3 teens are victims of dating violence

Pediatrics article: Sexual abuse prevalent in teen population

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American Association of State Colleges and Universities report: Proposal to slow privatization of public universities

18 Jan

Moi really don’t know what to make of the idea of privatizing state universities. In the recent past, government had the goal of raising the standard of living and producing the economic conditions that fostered livable wage jobs. The goal of most politicians was to create the conditions that promoted and fostered a strong middle class. Particularly, after WWII and the Korean War, with the G.I Bill, one part of that equation was the wide availability of a college education. This push produced an educated workforce and a college education was within reach, no matter one’s class or social status. This educated workforce helped drive this country’s prosperity. Now, have we lost the goal of providing educational opportunity the widest number of people possible, no matter their class or social status? This question causes me to wonder about privatizing state universities.

A couple of questions. First, has anyone ever looked at how efficient the academic world is in spending current resources? Second, is the current institutional model one that works? Should there be changes in the institutional model?

Sam Dillion was writing about the prospect of privatizing public universities in the New York Times in 2005. See, At Public Universities, Warnings of Privatization In 2004, William Symonds wrote an opinion piece in Business Week about the role of public universities:

To date, no major public university has been fully privatized. But as the states foot a smaller share of their budgets, the flagships have become more dependent on tuition and other sources of funds. They may still be publicly owned, but increasingly they’re privately financed. So a number of the flagships are seeking more freedom from state control. In July, University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman won “enterprise status” for her school, which means it’s no longer governed by the same rules as state agencies. Miami University of Ohio recently became the first major public campus to adopt the high-price, high-financial-aid tuition model used by elite private colleges. That means all students across the board are now charged $19,642, although Ohio residents receive scholarships of at least $10,000. “We are becoming more like our private counterparts,” says Penn State President Graham B. Spanier.”
This is a powerful yet troubling trend. On the one hand, the flagships are being forced to rely more on fund-raising, research grants, and other private or nonstate money. Given this reality, it makes sense to free them up from state rules that could impede their ability to become efficient and competitive. Such moves could help to insulate them from meddling politicians, as well.
Squeezing the Poor
At the same time, creeping privatization accelerates a broader movement by the top 100 or so flagships to hike their tuitions at a double-digit rate. The result is that a public good designed to give all Americans access to higher ed is turning into something more like a private one, open primarily to those whose families can afford it. Already, the student body at some flagship campuses is more affluent than at elite private schools: At Ohio’s Miami, for one, the median family income tops $100,000 a year.
Moreover, as flagships break free, support could erode for less prestigious state schools that remain more dependent on public funds. Privatization “will accelerate the social stratification of higher education, in which the elite [public colleges] are primarily filled with kids from privileged backgrounds, and the kids from poorer families are concentrated in less prestigious schools,” says David W. Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education at UVA. At the nation’s 146 most selective colleges — including the top flagships — just 3% of entering freshman come from the bottom socioeconomic quarter, while a staggering 74% come from the top quarter….

The privatization issue arises whenever there is a lack of leadership or vision

Recently, Kim Clark at the US News site asked Would Privatization Help Public Universities Excel? Michael Hiltzak addressed the question of privatizing the University of California in an LA Times article, Why Privatizing the University of California Won’t Work

Eric Kelderman reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education article, Report Proposes Federal Matching Grants for State Higher Education:

As Congress begins debating the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, proposals to change how public colleges get their federal money are starting to pop up.
On Wednesday, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities released a report recommending a new federal block grant to the states for higher education. The goal of the proposed program is to give states some incentive to preserve and even raise the amount they spend on colleges, which has been in decline, and also to strengthen the federal commitment to affordable higher education.
The formula for the additional federal money would be based on a comparison of a state’s per-student appropriation and the maximum Pell Grant.
To qualify for the bonus money, the state would have to provide a per-student appropriation equal to half of the maximum Pell Grant. At that level, the federal government would give the state another 25 cents for each dollar of state money.
“The more fiscal support states provide per … student, the higher the federal match rate, with the peak match reaching $0.60 for each dollar of state investment,” the report proposes. Based on figures for the 2012 fiscal year, Colorado, for example, would receive a block grant of about $1.7-million, while California would get about $1.2-billion.
While the formula would serve as a sort of de facto maintenance-of-effort provision, the additional federal dollars should come largely without strings attached, the report recommends.

The question lawmakers should be asking themselves is why society developed public universities and do those reasons still exist. In the rush to get past this moment in time lawmakers may be destroying the very economic engine, which would drive this state out of the economic famine that currently exists. Of course, if the current public universities were privatized, we wouldn’t have to worry about pigs still at the trough, like university presidents with million dollar salaries or would we?

Here is the press release from AASCU:

News Release from AASCU
Contact: Jennifer Walpole (202) 478-4665
AASCU Proposes Federal Incentive Program to Address College Affordability Crisis
Washington, D.C.—The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) released a proposal today aimed at combatting escalating tuition hikes at public colleges and universities. AASCU’s plan calls for leveraging up to $15 billion in federal matching funds to incentivize state lawmakers to invest in public higher education. The erosion of state funding remains the primary driver of tuition increases at public colleges and universities.
The proposed Federal-State College Affordability Partnershipwould reward states whose higher education funding practices align with the federal government’s longstanding commitment to making college more affordable for all Americans. It would compare each state’s per-student subsidy at public institutions to the Pell Grant maximum award—the federal government’s level of support for low-income students—and provide progressively greater federal matching funds to states that better fund their students.
“Providing an annual block grant to states that includes a scaled federal award is an efficient, effective and equitable method to keep college affordable,” says Daniel J. Hurley, associate vice president for government relations and state policy at AASCU.
“The program offers a unique mechanism to counter the privatization trend by ensuring that federal and state funding practices work in tandem to reduce costs for students” says Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at AASCU.
Given the vital importance of a highly educated workforce, AASCU calls on Congress to give serious consideration to the Federal-State College Affordability Partnership.
The proposal is the result of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) initiative—Phase Two; Grants and Work-Study Consortia, led by the Education Trust, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.It was authored by Daniel J. Hurley, Thomas L. Harnisch and Barmak Nassirian of the AASCU division of government relations and policy analysis.
View AASCU’s report on the proposal here:
A Proposed Federal Matching Grant Program to Stop the Privatization of Public Higher Education

AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.

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Technological Educational Institute of Crete study: Parenting style linked to internet addiction in children

16 Jan

Moi wrote in Children’s sensory overload from technology:

Jason Dick has 15 Warning Signs That Your Child is An Internet Addict:

Psychological and media experts have compiled a list of warning signs for Internet addiction:
1. The Internet is frequently used as a means of escaping from problems or relieving a depressed mood.
2. Your child often loses track of time while online.
3. Sleep is sacrificed for the opportunity to spend more time online.
4. Your child prefers to spend more time online than with friends or family.
5. He/She lies to family member and friends about the amount of time or nature of surfing being done on the Internet.
6. Your child becomes irritable if not allowed to access the Internet.
7. He/She has lost interest in activities they once found enjoyable before getting online access.
8. Your child forms new relationships with people they have met online.
9. They check their email several times per day.
10. He/She has jeopardized relationships, achievements, or educational opportunities because of the Internet.
11. Your child disobeys the time limits that have been set for Internet usage.
12. They eat in front of the computer frequently.
13. Your child develops withdrawal symptoms including: anxiety, restlessness, or trembling hands after not using the Internet for a lengthy period of time.
14.Your child is preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computer.
15. They have trouble distinguishing between the virtual world and the real world.
It is very important that parents identify Internet addiction in their children at an early age and set limits on their Internet use. My next article will provide a no nonsense contract that parents can use with their children to set limits and boundaries on Internet use.

See also, Internet Addiction in Children and Internet Addiction Linked to ADHD and Depression in Teens

Katherine Doyle of Reuters reported in the article, Parenting style linked to kids’ Internet addiction:

Recollections of strict, unaffectionate parents were more common among young adults with an unhealthy attachment to Internet use, compared to their peers, in a new Greek study.
Young adults who recall their parents being tough or demanding without showing affection tend to be sad or to have trouble making friends, and those personality traits raise their risk of Internet addiction, the researchers say.
“In short, good parenting, including parental warmth and affection, that is caring and protective parents, has been associated with lower risk for Internet addiction,” said lead author Argyroula E. Kalaitzaki of the Technological Education Institute (TEI) of Crete in Heraklion, “whereas bad parenting, including parental control and intrusion, that is authoritarian and neglectful parents, has been associated with higher risk for addiction.”
Research on Internet addiction is still relatively new, and there are no actual criteria for diagnosing the disorder, though there are many inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities in the U.S., Australia and Asia.
Some of the studies done to date suggest that kids who have trouble relating to others in person might be at higher risk for a problematically high level of Internet use. Those who are socially withdrawn or lonely might also be more likely to spend excessive time online.
Kalaitzaki’s team predicted that the way kids bonded with their parents would predict aspects of their personality as young adults, which in turn would predict their likelihood of Internet addiction.
For the study, more than 700 young adults at technical schools, all around age 20, filled out questionnaires during class time. They answered questions about their feelings of loneliness, sadness and anxiety, and about their Internet use.
They also answered questions about how they recalled being brought up during their first 16 years of life.
In Greece, previous studies have found that between 1 percent and 8 percent of teens are addicted to the Internet.
The current study classified almost 2 percent of the men and 0.6 percent of the women as severely addicted, according to the results published in Addictive Behaviors.
The authors did not find a link between anxiety or loneliness and Internet addiction, nor could they directly link any particular parenting style with addiction.
But Kalaitzaki and her colleagues did find indirect connections.
The kids who remembered their fathers as controlling and not affectionate tended to have more trouble relating to others as young adults, and those who had trouble relating to others were more likely to be addicted.
Those who remembered their mothers as just not being very good parents were more likely to report sadness as young adults, which was also linked to Internet addiction.
“Parents should be made aware of the harmful impact that a potential negative parental rearing style may have upon their children in later life,” Kalaitzaki told Reuters Health…


Argyroula Kalaitzaki
Technological Educational Institute of Crete
The impact of early parenting bonding on young adults’ Internet addiction, through the mediation effects of negative relating to others and sadness.
Argyroula Kalaitzaki
Addictive Behaviors 01/2014; 39(3):733–736.

ABSTRACT The aim of the present study is the investigation of the potential role of negative relating to others, perceived loneliness, sadness, and anxiety, as mediators of the association between early parental bonding and adult Internet Addiction (IA). The factorial structure of the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and the prevalence rates of it in a Greek samplewill also be investigated. A total of 774 participants were recruited froma Technological Education Institute (mean age = 20.2, SD = 2.8) and from high school technical schools (mean age = 19.9, SD = 7.4). The IATwas used tomeasure the degree of problematic Internet use behaviors; the Parental Bonding Instrument was used to assess one’s recalled parenting experiences during the first 16 years of life; the shortened Person’s Relating to Others Questionnaire was used to assess one’s negative (i.e. maladaptive) relating to others (NRO). Both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed the three-factor structure of the IAT. Only 1.0% of the sample was severely addicted to the Internet. The mediated effects of only the NRO and sadness were confirmed.
Negative relating to others was found to fully mediate the effect of both the father’s optimal parenting
and affectionless control on IA, whereas sadness was found to fully mediate the effect of the mother’s optimal parenting on IA. Overall, the results suggest that parenting style has an indirect impact on IA, through the mediating role of negative relating to others or sadness in later life. Both family-based and individual-based prevention and intervention efforts may reduce the incidence of IA.

Helpguide.Org has a good article on treating internet addiction in teens. Among their suggestions are:

It’s a fine line as a parent. If you severely limit a child or teen’s Internet use, they might rebel and go to excess. But you can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get your child help if he or she needs it. If your child or teen is showing signs of Internet addiction, there are many things that you as a parent can do to help:
• Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
• Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online, waiting until homework and chores are done. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.
• Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child. Helpguide.Org has a good article on treating internet addiction in teens. Among their suggestions are:
• It’s a fine line as a parent. If you severely limit a child or teen’s Internet use, they might rebel and go to excess. But you can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get your child help if he or she needs it. If your child or teen is showing signs of Internet addiction, there are many things that you as a parent can do to help:
• Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
• Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online, waiting until homework and chores are done. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.
• Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child. Helpguide.Org has a good article on treating internet addiction in teens. Among their suggestions are:
• It’s a fine line as a parent. If you severely limit a child or teen’s Internet use, they might rebel and go to excess. But you can and should model appropriate computer use, supervise computer activity and get your child help if he or she needs it. If your child or teen is showing signs of Internet addiction, there are many things that you as a parent can do to help:
• Encourage other interests and social activities. Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, such as team sports, Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.
• Monitor computer use and set clear limits. Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child’s online activity, and limit time online, waiting until homework and chores are done. This will be most effective if you as parents follow suit. If you can’t stay offline, chances are your children won’t either.
• Talk to your child about underlying issues. Compulsive computer use can be the sign of deeper problems. Is your child having problems fitting in? Has there been a recent major change, like a move or divorce, which is causing stress? Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you are concerned about your child.

There is something to be said for Cafe Society where people actually meet face-to-face for conversation or the custom of families eating at least one meal together. Time has a good article on The Magic of the Family Meal,9171,1200760,00.html See, also Family Dinner: The Value of Sharing Meals


Is ‘texting’ destroying literacy skills

UK study: Overexposure to technology makes children miserable

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University of Pennsylvania Annenberg Public Policy Center study: Drug testing high school students might not be effective

14 Jan

Moi wrote in Missouri high school to drug test students:
Fox News reported in the story, Missouri high school reportedly to use hair samples for random drug tests:
Beginning in the 2013-2014 school year, students at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City will be mandated to undergo random drug testing by submitting roughly 60 strands of hair to a staff member at the 1,000-student school, reports….
If a student tests positive for any substance, according to the new policy, a guidance counselor will be notified. The counselor will then notify the student’s parents to determine how to best help the child.
The student would then be given 90 days to be drug-free, with no notification sent to administrative personnel. The incident would only be noted in the student’s guidance file, which would later be destroyed upon graduation and will not be sent to colleges or universities. The document would only become public if subpoenaed, the website reports.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Institute) has some great information about drug testing.
In Frequently Asked Questions About Drug Testing in Schools, the Institute discusses drug testing.
Why test teenagers at all?
Teens are especially vulnerable to drug abuse, when the brain and body are still developing. Most teens do not use drugs, but for those who do, it can lead to a wide range of adverse effects on the brain, the body, behavior and health.
Short term: Even a single use of an intoxicating drug can affect a person’s judgment and decisonmaking—resulting in accidents, poor performance in a school or sports activity, unplanned risky behavior, and the risk of overdosing.
Long term: Repeated drug abuse can lead to serious problems, such as poor academic outcomes, mood changes (depending on the drug: depression, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis), and social or family problems caused or worsened by drugs.
Repeated drug use can also lead to the disease of addiction. Studies show that the earlier a teen begins using drugs, the more likely he or she will develop a substance abuse problem or addiction. Conversely, if teens stay away from drugs while in high school, they are less likely to develop a substance abuse problem later in life….
Is random drug testing of students legal?
In June 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the authority of public schools to test students for illegal drugs. Voting 5 to 4 in Pottawatomie County v. Earls, the court ruled to allow random drug tests for all middle and high school students participating in competitive extracurricular activities. The ruling greatly expanded the scope of school drug testing, which previously had been allowed only for student athletes.
Just because the U.S. Supreme Court said student drug testing for adolescents in competitive extracurricular activities is constitutional, does that mean it is legal in my city or state?
A school or school district that is interested in adopting a student drug testing program should seek legal expertise so that it complies with all federal, state, and local laws. Individual state constitutions may dictate different legal thresholds for allowing student drug testing. Communities interested in starting student drug testing programs should become familiar with the law in their respective states to ensure proper compliance.
The primary issue is whether students have privacy rights.
Your summarizes the pros and cons of School Drug Testing:
The main purpose of random school drug testing is not to catch kids using drugs, it to keep them from ever using them. Once their using drugs its harder for them to break their addiction. With many employers drug testing its very important for a kid’s future not to use drugs. Drug use is responsible for many crimes. Its worth the inconvenience for all our future.
One of the fundamental features of our legal system is that we are presumed innocent of any wrongdoing unless and until the government proves otherwise. Random drug testing of student athletes turns this presumption on its head, telling students that we assume they are using drugs until they prove to the contrary with a urine sample.
“If school officials have reason to believe that a particular student is using drugs, they already have the power to require that student to submit to a drug test,” said ACLU-NJ Staff Attorney David Rocah.
The constitutional prohibition against “unreasonable” searches also embodies the principle that merely belonging to a certain group is not a sufficient reason for a search, even if many members of that group are suspected of illegal activity. Thus, for example, even if it were true that most men with long hair were drug users, the police would not be free to stop all long haired men and search them for drugs.
Peer pressure is the greatest cause of kids trying drugs. If by testing the athletes or other school leaders, we can get them to say no to drugs, it will be easier for other kids to say no.
Some also argue that students who aren’t doing anything wrong have nothing to fear. This ignores the fact that what they fear is not getting caught, but the loss of dignity and trust that the drug test represents. And we should all be afraid of government officials who believe that a righteous cause warrants setting aside bedrock constitutional protections. The lesson that our schools should be teaching is respect for the Constitution and for students’ dignity and privacy, not a willingness to treat cherished constitutional principles as mere platitudes.
See, What Are the Benefits of Drug Testing?
Maanvi Singh of NPR reported in the study, Drug Tests Don’t Deter Drug Use, But School Environment Might:
Schools that do random drug testing say it helps students say no to illegal drugs, while critics say it’s an invasion of privacy. But feeling good about school may affect students’ drug use more than the threat of testing.
A survey of high school students found that the possibility that they might face drug testing didn’t really discourage students from alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. But students who thought their school had a positive environment were less apt to try cigarettes and pot.
Those students were about 20 percent less likely to try smoke pot and 15 percent less likely to light up a cigarette than students who didn’t feel that their school was a positive place, the survey found. And the trend held true, more or less, regardless of demographic or geographic factors.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center looked at 361 high school students across the country. The students were initially interviewed in 2008 as part of the more general National Annenberg Survey of Youth. A year later, researchers followed up and asked participants whether they had tried alcohol, or smoked cigarettes or marijuana.
The research was published Monday in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Dan Romer, an author of the study who directs Annenberg’s Adolescent Communication Institute, says he wasn’t surprised by the results. “In a school with a good climate, the kids will respect what the teachers say more,” he tells Shots.
The key, Romer says, is that students need to understand why a school has certain disciplinary policies. “It basically boils down to how much respect everybody feels toward each other,” he says.
Proponents of random drug testing say it can act as a deterrent, or as a way to identify students in need of help. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the practice twice, in 1995 and 2002. But the court limited its use to students participating in competitive extracurricular activities.
A school that has a positive climate might also practice drug testing, Romer said – the two aren’t mutually exclusive. But this study suggests that administrators concerned about substance abuse might want to try programs that encourage a more respectful school climate before turning to drug testing.
This study is by no means conclusive. It doesn’t distinguish between schools that implement randomized drug testing and those that only test students suspected of drug use. And it doesn’t look at whether other drug education programs might have influenced the results.
These findings reinforce previous research that casts doubt on the effectiveness of drug testing as a deterrent. A 2010 study from the University of Michigan found that in schools with drug testing, students were more likely to turn from marijuana to other illicit drugs.
One thing that neither a drug policy nor a positive environment seemed to affect was underage drinking. “It suggests to us that alcohol may be so accepted now in high school culture,” Romer says, “that kids think if you’re at a party you should be able to drink.”
See, School drug tests don’t work, but ‘positive climate’ might
Here is the press release from University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center:
School drug tests ineffective but a ‘positive climate’ might work
Monday, January 13th, 2014
A national study of teenagers suggests that school drug testing did not deter them from starting to smoke tobacco or marijuana or drink alcohol. But in high schools that had a “positive school climate,” teens were less likely to start smoke cigarettes or marijuana.
Research published in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs compared the effectiveness over one year of school policies of student drug testing, which are in place in an estimated 20 percent of U.S. high schools, with a positive school climate.
“The bad news is that a policy of drug testing has no effect on students starting to use alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana,” said study co-author Dan Romer, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s also no effect on escalating the use of those substances.”
The study found, however, that students in schools with a positive school climate reported a lower rate of starting to use cigarettes and marijuana, and a slower escalation of smoking at the one-year follow-up interview. Students in schools with positive climates were 15 percent less likely to start smoking cigarettes and 20 percent less likely to start using marijuana than students at schools without positive climates, the study shows.
Student drug testing “is a relatively ineffective drug-prevention policy,” wrote the researchers, Dan Romer and Sharon R. Sznitman, an APPC Distinguished Research Fellow and a lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of Haifa, Israel. “On the other hand, interventions that improve school climate may have greater efficacy.” The study added that “whole school” health efforts that engage students, faculty and parents, and promote a sense of security and well-being have been found to reduce substance abuse.
Neither drug testing nor school climate affected the start of drinking alcohol.
For the complete news release click here.
To read the study click here.
And for APPC’s issue brief on student drug testing, click here.
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Volume 75, 2014 > Issue 1: January 2014
Download PDF Document
Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study [OPEN ACCESS]
Sharon R. Sznitman, Daniel Romer
Objective: Fostering positive school climates and student drug testing have been separately proposed as strategies to reduce student drug use in high schools. To assess the promise of these strategies, the present research examined whether positive school climates and/or student drug testing successfully predicted changes in youth substance use over a 1-year follow-up. Method: Two waves of panel data from a sample of 361 high school students, assessed 1 year apart, were analyzed. Changes in reported initiation and escalation in frequency of alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use as a function of perceived student drug testing and positive school climates were analyzed, while we held constant prior substance use. Results: Perceived student drug testing was not associated with changes in substance use, whereas perceived positive school climates were associated with a reduction in cigarette and marijuana initiation and a reduction in escalation of frequency of cigarette use at 1-year follow-up. However, perceived positive school climates were not associated with a reduction in alcohol use. Conclusions: Student drug testing appears to be less associated with substance use than positive school climates. Nevertheless, even favorable school climates may not be able to influence the use of alcohol, which appears to be quite normative in this age group. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 75, 65–73, 2014)
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If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.
University of Washington study: Heroin use among young suburban and rural non-traditional users on the increase
Northwestern University study: Young adolescent use of marijuana results in changes to the brain structure
Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base
Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
Is Your Teen Using?
Al-Anon and Alateen
WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Dropouts finish education: Kent School District’s iGrad Program

13 Jan

Moi wrote in Studies: Lack of support and early parenthood cause kids to dropout: Caralee Adams writes in the Education Week article, Why High School Students Drop Out and Efforts to Re-Engage:

Parenthood—either being a parent or missing out on parental support—is the leading reason cited by dropouts for leaving school, according to a new survey.
The 2012 High School Dropouts in America survey was released today by Harris/Decima, a division of Harris Interactive, on behalf of Everest College, a part of the for-profit Corinthian College Inc.
The poll was commissioned to help policymakers and educators understand why students drop out of high school and find effective ways to re-engage them in the hope of improving graduation rates.
The survey asked 513 adults, ages 19 to 35: “Which, if any, of the following reasons prevented you from finishing high school?” Here are the responses:
1. Absence of parental support or encouragement (23 percent)
2. Becoming a parent (21 percent)
3. Lacking the credits needed to graduate (17 percent)
4. Missing too many days of school (17 percent)
5. Failing classes (15 percent)
6. Uninteresting classes (15 percent)
7. Experiencing a mental illness, such as depression (15 percent)
8. Having to work to support by family (12 percent)
9. Was bullied and didn’t want to return (12 percent)
In the survey, conducted online in October, 55 percent of the dropouts looked into, but had not started the process of getting their high school equivalency or GED. The likelihood of doing so is higher for those who are married (67 percent). The reasons for not getting a GED: “not having enough time” (34 percent) and “it costs too much” (26 percent).
One-third of high school dropouts say they are employed either full time, part time, or are self‐employed. Another 38 percent of the men and 26 percent of the women were unemployed.
Attracting young adults who have dropped out back for more education is a challenge.
Often students don’t want to return to the same school they left and are looking for flexible options. One approach that is showing promise is the Boston Public Re-Engagement Center. There, students can retake up to two courses they previously failed; try online credit recovery, or attend night school or summer school. Coming into the program, out-of-school youths are connected with an adult to discuss goals, finances, and enrollment options.

See, High School Dropouts Worsened By Lack Of Support, Becoming A Parent: Survey

Michelle Conerly of the Kent Reporter wrote about a Kent School District program which helps dropouts finish their education in the article, More students making the grade at iGrad:

For students completing the Kent School District diploma track through the new iGrad program, this is what their classroom looks like.
The iGrad academy is a district program funded by the state in partnership with the Kent School District and Green River Community College (GRCC) that offers students 16-21 years old the ability to earn credits toward one of three program tracks. Students also may choose to earn a Washington state diploma or a GED certificate.
This individualized learning model is structured to cater to the students’ unique needs.
“At the iGrad site each student is taking the subjects they need to graduate – whatever they are credit deficient in,” said Catherine Cantrell, interim dean of instruction – language, academic skills, and wellness at GRCC.
At of the beginning of January, around 460 students were enrolled in the iGrad program, but according to Principal Carol Cleveland, 12 to 14 students are added daily, making the actual number of students much higher.
Before enrolling, every student meets with Cleveland for a one-on-one session to address the student’s educational needs and goals. Then, the choice is his or hers as to which track would satisfy those needs.
For the students who choose the GED track, professors come to the iGrad site at 25668 104th Ave. SE, Kent, and students are expected to attend class four days a week in order to prepare for the GED test. For the students who choose to earn a Kent School District diploma, they must attend class for three hours once a week at the iGrad site. The other 12 required hours per week are to be completed remotely via a computer.
For students choosing the Washington state diploma track, they are able to attend GRCC classes on campus. Students are also able to earn college credit while still earning high school credits.
“We consider iGrad students Green River Community College students,” Cantrell said. “We encourage them to be a part of the college. The whole benefit of iGrad is that students can transition to college.”
To the couple thousand students in the Kent School District that were eligible to participate, a team of administrators sent out postcards informing them of their eligibility. For every postcard that was sent back expressing interest, the administrators called every student to meet with Cleveland and to begin the process of enrollment.
Many of the students who choose to participate in the iGrad program have dropped out of school or never re-enrolled in school for many reasons. Part of Cleveland’s job is to address those issues and make learning as accessible as possible for the students in this program.
“I try to remove all the barriers I can,” Cleveland said. “My day is filled with figuring out what they need.”
From bus passes and reduced childcare services to paying for their first two years of at GRCC, Cleveland has set up funds that allow her to be a “barrier remover” for the students in the iGrad program that qualify for these options.
Students do not have to live within the boundaries of the Kent School District to enroll in the iGrad program, yet if they choose to participate, they must abide by the school district rules. The interest in the program has grown so much that Cleveland has received calls from other districts and even other states as to how this model of education is working out for the students.
Not all the kinks are worked out yet, though. With only five teachers and two counselors, the minimal staffing makes it difficult at times for Cleveland. She is looking to hire an assistant principal to help organize and supervise the program.
For the students who choose to earn a Kent School District diploma, there is little to no social aspect of the program. For some students, the lack of socializing is welcomed, but for others, they miss the traditional classroom setting.

Here is information from the Kent School District about iGrad:

Learn more about the iGrad program

Progress reports are available for parents and guardians
Parents and guardians can receive weekly progress reports sent directly to their email. The reports are generated by the software systems that students use in their classes: Edgenuity (formerly known as e2020) and APEX.
To start receiving progress reports, email Assistant Principal, Mary Anderson at: . Please include your student’s full name, email address(es) that reports will be sent to, and how often you’d like to receive reports: daily, weekly, or monthly.
We hope you’ll find this to be a useful tool in supporting your student and encouraging progress.

For a good discussion of why child care is important to students, see the journal article, Contemporary Childcare Issues Facing Colleges and Universities by Marybeth Kyle, William J. Campion, William R. Ogden; College Student Journal, Vol. 33, 1999.

In order for low-income people, particularly single mothers to have a shot at escaping poverty, they must get an education, trade, or vocation. For many, affordable child care is the key determinant of whether they can advance. Alexandra Cawthorne in the 2008 report for the Center for American Progress, The Straight Facts on Women in Poverty describes the issues facing women in poverty. The National Coalition for Campus Children’s Centers has statistics about Children on Campus Moi wrote about childcare in A baby changes everything: Helping parents finish school

Education must not only be affordable for many student populations, it must be accessible as well.

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Tohoku University study: Excessive television watching changes children’s brain structure

12 Jan

Moi wrote about the effect on television on children in Television cannot substitute for quality childcare:
Your toddler not only needs food for their body and appropriate physical activity, but you need to nourish their mind and spirit as well.
There are several good articles which explain why you do not want your toddler parked in front of a television several hours each day. Robin Elise Weiss, LCCE has a very good explanation of how television can be used as a resource by distinguishing between television watching and targeting viewing of specific programs designed to enhance learning. In Should Babies and Toddlers Watch Television? Elizabeth Pantley comments about the effects of young children and television. MSNBC was reporting about toddlers and television in 2004.

In the MSNBC report, Watching TV May Hurt Toddlers’ Attention Spans the following comments were made:

Researchers have found that every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chances — by about 10 percent — of developing attention deficit problems later in life.
The findings back up previous research showing that television can shorten attention spans and support American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that youngsters under age 2 not watch television.
“The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness” too, said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

The issue is whether prolonged television watching affects a child’s brain development.

Nancy Shute is reports in the US News article, TV Watching Is Bad for Babies’ Brains

Babies who watch TV are more likely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months, especially if they’re watching programs intended for adults and older children. We probably knew that 24 and Grey’s Anatomy don’t really qualify as educational content, but it’s surprising that TV-watching made a difference at such a tender age.
Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren’t watching that much TV. Though their developmental scores were still in the normal range, the discrepancy may be due to the fact that when kids and parents are watching TV, they’re missing out on talking, playing, and interactions that are essential to learning and development.
This new study, which appeared in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed 259 lower-income families in New York, most of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language at home. Other studies examining higher-income families have also come to the same conclusion: TV watching not only isn’t educational, but it seems to stunt babies’ development.

Background television is also not good for the development of a child. Television in the background can be harmful for kids. Alexandra Sifferlin writes in the Time article, TV On in the Background? It’s Still Bad for Kids.

Robin Yapp of the Daily Mail reported in the article, Children who watch too much TV may have ‘damaged brain structures’:

Watching too much television can change the structure of a child’s brain in a damaging way, according to a new study.
Researchers found that the more time a child spent viewing TV, the more profound the brain alterations appeared to be.
The Japanese study looked at 276 children aged between five and 18, who watched between zero and four hours TV per day, with the average being about two hours.
MRI brain scans showed children who spent the most hours in front of the box had greater amounts of grey matter in regions around the frontopolar cortex – the area at the front of the frontal lobe.
But this increased volume was a negative thing as it was linked with lower verbal intelligence, said the authors, from Tohoku University in the city of Sendai.
They suggested grey matter could be compared to body weight and said these brain areas need to be pruned during childhood in order to operate efficiently.
‘These areas show developmental cortical thinning during development, and children with superior IQs show the most vigorous cortical thinning in this area,’ the team wrote.
They highlighted the fact that unlike learning a musical instrument, for example, programmes we watch on TV ‘do not necessarily advance to a higher level, speed up or vary’.
‘When this type of increase in level of experience does not occur with increasing experience, there is less of an effect on cognitive functioning,’ they wrote.
Children who watch the most TV have the most profound changes to their brain structure
The authors said the impact of watching TV on the ‘structural development’ of the brain has never before been investigated.
‘In conclusion, TV viewing is directly or indirectly associated with the neurocognitive


1. Cereb. Cortex (2013) doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht315 First published online: November 20, 2013
The Impact of Television Viewing on Brain Structures: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses
1. Hikaru Takeuchi1⇑,
2. Yasuyuki Taki1,2,3,
3. Hiroshi Hashizume1,
4. Kohei Asano1,
5. Michiko Asano1,
6. Yuko Sassa1,
7. Susumu Yokota4,
8. Yuka Kotozaki5,
9. Rui Nouchi6 and
10. Ryuta Kawashima2,4,7
+ Author Affiliations
1. 1Division of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer
2. 2Division of Medical Neuroimaging Analysis, Department of Community Medical Supports, Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization
3. 3Department of Nuclear Medicine & Radiology, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer
4. 4Graduate School of Education
5. 5Smart Ageing International Research Centre, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer
6. 6Human and Social Response Research Division, International Research Institute of Disaster Science
7. 7Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
1. Address correspondence to Hikaru Takeuchi, Division of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, IDAC, Tohoku University, 4-1 Seiryo-cho, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan. Email:
Television (TV) viewing is known to affect children’s verbal abilities and other physical, cognitive, and emotional development in psychological studies. However, the brain structural development associated with TV viewing has never been investigated. Here we examined cross-sectional correlations between the duration of TV viewing and regional gray/white matter volume (rGMV/rWMV) among 133 boys and 143 girls as well as correlations between the duration of TV viewing and longitudinal changes that occurred a few years later among 111 boys and 105 girls. After correcting for confounding factors, we found positive effects of TV viewing on rGMV of the frontopolar and medial prefrontal areas in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, positive effects of TV viewing on rGMV/rWMV of areas of the visual cortex in cross-sectional analyses, and positive effects of TV viewing on rGMV of the hypothalamus/septum and sensorimotor areas in longitudinal analyses. We also confirmed negative effects of TV viewing on verbal intelligence quotient (IQ) in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. These anatomical correlates may be linked to previously known effects of TV viewing on verbal competence, aggression, and physical activity. In particular, the present results showed effects of TV viewing on the frontopolar area of the brain, which has been associated with intellectual abilities.
Key words
• children
• gray matter volume
• television
• verbal
• white matter volume
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Here is the press release from the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University:

2013 | Press Release
Long term television viewing has a negative impact on higher cognitive brain functions such as developmental changes and verbal abilities in children: Caution should be exercised on extended TV viewing for developing children
2013.11.21 | Press Release , Achievement and Award , Achievements
Professor Ryuta Kawashima of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience sponsored by Kumon Educational Japan Co., Ltd. at the Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University has clarified the development of brain anatomy, cerebral blood flow, and cerebral brain function in healthy children and is currently investigating how lifestyle habits affects the development of cognitive abilities and brain functions using brain function imaging devices such as MRI.
A research group headed by Associate Professor Hikaru Takeuchi and Professor Ryuta Kawashima using longitudinal follow-up data in children analyzed if TV viewing habits is associated with change over the years in verbal abilities and brain anatomy. It was discovered that watching TV over an extended period of time has a negative impact on areas of higher-order cognitive functions that includes the frontal pole of the brain. The findings suggest caution should be exercised on long time TV viewing in developing children.
Through brain image analysis, large scale data, and longitudinal data accumulated over the years and discovering the negative effects of viewing TV in children that adversely affects neural mechanisms such as verbal abilities, this innovative research was selected in the British scientific neuroscience journal Cerebral Cortex.
More information (Japanese)
Associate Professor Hikaru Takeuchi
Division of Cognitive Neuroscience
Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University
TEL: +81-22-717-8457
E-mail: takehi* (Replace * with @)
If watching television is not an appropriate activity for toddlers, then what are appropriate activities? Family Education has a list of Developmental Activities by Age

See, How to Have a Happier, Healthier, Smarter Baby

Parents must interact with their children and read to them. Television is not a parental substitute.
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