105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
March 28, 2007
MN House Democrats Spurn Parental Rights
Sen. Wergin and Rep. Gottwalt introduce amendments
Most parents are unaware that, in Minnesota, preschool screening includes
mental screening (also called socio-emotional or behavioral screening).
Last year, EdWatch discovered that both the Departments of Health and
implementing universal preschool mental health screening, in spite of
defeat in 2005 and in 2006.
EdWatch printed and distributed
Rights on Preschool Screening" cards to inform parents that they
may refuse any part or all preschool screening, including subjective
socio-emotional (mental health) screening and the states nosy questions
about your family's life (MS 121A.17, Subd. 3e). Districts currently send
out misleading notices referencing only part of the law, saying something
like, "In Minnesota, all children are required to complete Early
Childhood Screening before entering school."
screening infants and preschoolers for mental health is impossible.
Universal preschool mental health screening is not based on objective
medical tests, as advocates would have us believe. It assesses
"behaviors" and leads to inaccurate and dangerous labeling of
children for normal childhood behaviors. It increases already excessively
high over-diagnosis and over-medication of children, especially of boys
Dr. Karen Effrem of EdWatch testified last year in a Minnesota Senate committee
that, "Government-sponsored and controlled universal mental health
screening, no matter how sweetly wrapped in the fig leaf of parental
consent, should never, ever be implemented. It is never, EVER, the proper
role of government," she stated, "to set norms for, assess or
intervene in the thoughts and emotions of free citizens, much less
innocent, vulnerable, and still developing children. It is our thoughts
and emotions that make each of us uniquely and individually human, and we
use these thoughts and emotions to understand the world and maintain our
inalienable right to liberty."
2006, Senate Early Childhood Education Finance Division]
Last week, on Wednesday, March 21st,
Sen. Betsy Wergin
introduced an amendment to the Senate E-12 Education Finance omnibus bill
which would at least require school districts to inform families that
they may sign a statement to release their child from screening.
It is simply a matter of informing parents of what is already in law
-- straightforward support of parental rights. The Wergin amendment passed in the
Education Finance Committee on a
unanimous voice vote.
However, on Monday, March 26th, when
Rep. Steve Gottwalt (R)
introduced the very same amendment to the House omnibus early
childhood bill (HF 1056), his amendment was defeated on a 9 to 4
vote. (Rep. Gottwalt introduced this same language as a
stand-alone bill, HF 2068, which did not receive a hearing). Those
voting yes to inform parents of their legal right to refuse
screening were Rob Eastlund (R),
Pat Garofalo (R),
Steve Gottwalt (R), and
Lynn Wardlow (R).
Those members who smugly and without comment voted to keep parents in the dark
about their right to refuse this sometimes invasive screening were
Nora Slawik (DFL),
David Bly (DFL),
Patti Fritz (DFL),
Scott Kranz (DFL),
Carolyn Laine (DFL),
Erin Murphy (DFL),
Sandra Peterson (DFL),
John Ward (DFL), and
Ryan Winkler (DFL).
According to a survey of members of the American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 9 out of 10 children who see a
psychiatrist receive a prescription for psychoactive drugs. The
screening instruments are based on highly subjective diagnostic
criteria and are not at all like medical screening tests, such as
for hearing or vision.
In fact, the technical data for the Ages and Stages
questionnaire being used for screening admits that its overall
positive predictive value is only 27%. That means that for every
27 children that are supposedly correctly identified by the
admittedly subjective DSM or other impressionistic screening
instruments, 73 are falsely told that something is wrong with them
and referred for further evaluation. That is worse than a coin flip.
105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
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