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952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com

April 16, 2007

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HIDING TEENSCREEN: Where's Waldo?
        A huge public outpouring against the controversial TeenScreen program has the DFL legislative leaders hiding it away. But TeenScreen is alive in the House Education bill, sitting in obscure language, like Waldo hiding in the children's picture books. Neither TeenScreen nor suicide prevention initiatives are contained in the final Senate education bill.

Four questions remain:
  1. Will the House bill being considered on the House floor sometime between this Tuesday and Thursday (April 17th to 19th) promote the mental screening of our children? 

  2. Will the conference committee between the House and the Senate include psychiatric screening of our kids?

  3. If psychiatric screening (i.e. TeenScreen) is part of the final bill sent to the Governor to sign, will the House and Senate uphold the promised Governor's veto?

  4. If the veto is upheld, will the new bill that is created out of negotiations between the legislature and the Governor include psychiatric screening (i.e. TeenScreen)?
Background information:

         TeenScreen is a subjective and unscientific suicide screening instrument of vague and leading questions. By its own admission, 84% of the students TeenScreen red-flags are falsely identified, a fact TeenScreen advocates consider harmless. TeenScreen is being promoted by the same public relations firm whose clients include the pharmaceutical companies and their front groups that make the very drugs that are all too frequently used for children and adolescents.  These medications have shown little evidence of effectiveness and are associated with suicide and other dangerous and deadly side effects.

         How they hid TeenScreen
  1. They relocated it in a "Safe Schools Levy";
  2. They removed the TeenScreen name; and
  3. They described it generically as "suicide prevention tools".
DFL legislators are passing TeenScreen by deception!

        Early in the day on March 27, 2007 (see March 13th alert), the Health Care and Human Services Finance Division defeated an amendment by Rep. Laura Brod to delete TeenScreen from the omnibus Mental Health bill (HF 196). This vote clarifies that the illegitimate TeenScreen program has become largely partisan -- only the DFL and one Republican, and every DFL member except one in the committee, are still supporting it. (See roll call vote here.)

        HF 196 was then included in other omnibus bills, and any direct reference to TeenScreen vanished. The huge omnibus K-12 Education spending bill (HF 6) was heard later that same day in the K-12 Education Finance Division. Who but the sharpest eyes of Dr. Karen Effrem would spot those three telling words ("suicide prevention tools") in the few minutes she had to scan the bill before it was approved, and recognize that this was simply TeenScreen by a generic name? But EdWatch has experienced "renaming the target" games many times before! Remember when the Profile of Learning was re-named "High Standards?

         Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake) offered an amendment to the Safe Schools Levy to protect against TeenScreen, which said, "...which shall not include psychiatric screening tools," and that students could not be labeled as potentially violent based solely on attitudes, values or beliefs.

        The latter part of the amendment pertaining to violence was due to another controversial program funded in the Safe Schools Levy and the federal Safe and Drug Free Schools program under No Child Left Behind called "Early Warning, Timely Response." This program includes "intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes" among ten warning signs of potential violence. The perceived intolerance could be based on "racial, ethnic, religious, language, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or physicial appearance" criteria.

        This YouTube link shows some of the live debate or listen to the streaming audio here. Please thank Rep. Olson for offering his  amendment (651-296-4237).

        The Olson amendment was defeated. Again it was almost completely a party line vote, with all Democrats and one Republican in yet another committee supporting state funding for this dangerous program.  (See roll call votes here.)

        HF 6 and its psychiatric screening came up again in the House Finance C ommittee on April 11th where Rep. Greiling added the words "voluntary, opt-in" to her already intentionally misleading TeenScreen funding. In doing so, she stated that this is about TeenScreen. The new "opt-in," parental consent policy, she said, was something TeenScreen has changed to because it "eliminates some of the controversy." 

        Opt-in does not mean, however, that parents requested psychiatric screening. Nor does it mean parents are informed about what their consent really means. Parents do not request screening, and those who agree to have their students participate are not informed that TeenScreen is wildly controversial, that the false positives are 84%, that the questions are vague and subjective, that the likely treatment will be drugs that are dangerous and ineffective, and that false identification can have severe negative effects on children. TeenScreen, now nameless, remains in the House K-12 Education Bill.


105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
952-361-4931 www.edwatch.org - edwatch@lakes.com

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