Archive for the ‘School violence’ Category


In Education advocacy, School reform, School violence on Monday, 11 February 2013 at 16:33

the comments section has some very well-written and thought-out points.  i believe without the individual attention these kids get now, we will see a rise in criminality. weren’t we JUST on the early intervention kick after sandy hook? how soon we forget…ugh. it’s save now, pay later. but we are the ones that will pay.




In School violence on Thursday, 10 January 2013 at 16:43

i don’t even have anything to say at this point.  this is unbelievable.  we need to do something.


time to stop the blame and criticism…education reform needs reform

In Education, Education advocacy, School reform, School violence on Tuesday, 18 December 2012 at 13:47

Remembering the Fallen Sandy Hook Educators

By Anthony Rebora on December 17, 2012 2:41 PM

Here are the names of the faculty members who were killed Friday in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Rachel Davino, behavioral therapist, 29

Dawn Hochsprung, principal, 47

Anne Marie Murphy, special education teacher, 52

Lauren Rousseau, teacher, 30

Mary Sherlach, school psychologist, 56

Victoria Soto, teacher, 27

Reports of the courage, selflessness, and sheer quick-wittedness of the educators at the school have proliferated over the weekend. In his speech at the prayer vigil in Newtown last night, President Obama highlighted the faculty members’ heroism as a source of inspiration for the country:

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch. They did not hesitate.

… [T]hey responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms and kept steady through it all and reassured their students by saying, “Wait for the good guys, they are coming. Show me your smile.”

A number of educator-bloggers have also drawn inspiration and a sense of professional strength from the Sandy Hook teachers’ actions. Some highlights:

Angela Maiers:

You have just been reminded of why we are indispensable and why no one can simply walk in off the street and do our work. You are in this position of privilege to do one thing like no other person on earth can do.

Vicki Davis:

You are a teacher. You are noble. Why does it take a dumb tragedy for people to realize how dedicated most of you are to your students? You make sacrifices every day and I know that many of you out there would do the same thing for your babies in your classroom.

Anthony Cody:

On this day we are reminded that classroom teachers, staff and administrators are on the front lines with our children every day. They are witnesses to the children’s growth and growing pains. They see the blossoming and the blight. … They take the chance that violence may come into their lives. They take the chance that they will encounter children with damage beyond their ability to reach. They take the chance that the trauma that inhabits the lives of so many of our children will find its way into their lives as well.

John Wilson:

Today will be a time for community and political leaders to thank teachers for their unheralded bravery. A visit to the school to show support would be appropriate. Providing special treats for the teachers’ lounge with a note of appreciation would be welcomed. The stress that teachers have been under all year is compounded when students and their colleagues are harmed. It is a time to re-examine how teachers in this country have been minimized for the contributions they make, and it is a time to re-commit to honor and respect and reward America’s teachers.

Let us know how you and your colleagues are responding.

Retrived from: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/teaching_now/2012/12/here_are_the_names_of.html#Newtown

the anarchist soccer mom…

In Education, School violence on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 15:10


Harrowing, Detailed Account of What Happened on 12/14

In Education, School Psychology, School violence on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 14:40

well-put, ms. ravitch!  we need to realign our priorities!

Harrowing, Detailed Account of What Happened on 12/14.

know the statistics…

In Education, General Psychology, Humane Education, Personality Disorders, Pets, School Psychology, School violence on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 12:47


woulda, shoulda, coulda…

In Education, Education advocacy, School Psychology, School violence on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 09:54

School Psychologists Feel the Squeeze

As school budgets shrink, school-based mental-health services are losing resources and support.

By Kirsten Weir

September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8


The Philadelphia school district came under fire last February when it announced a plan to eliminate half of its 110 school psychologist positions to help close a budget shortfall. After the public outcry, district administrators decided against the cuts.

But not all schools have been so lucky. The economic downturn has forced schools nationwide to tighten their belts — and many school psychologists are feeling the squeeze. Cash-strapped schools have already eliminated what they dub as “nonessential” school personnel and programs, such as art and physical education programs, says Ronald Palomares, PhD, assistant executive director of the APA’s Practice Directorate. And even after making these cuts, schools lack funding.

“Now that there’s less money with the same focus on academics, [schools] are looking at a broader definition of nonessential personnel,” he says. “And unfortunately, that is often where school psychology has fallen.”

That nonessential designation is, of course, all a matter of perspective. Federal special education law requires public school districts to employ school psychologists to evaluate students for special-education services. Fulfilling that role is the primary responsibility of the nation’s estimated 32,300 school psychologists (School Psychology International, 2009). About 6.5 million public school students — about 13 percent — received special-ed services in the 2009–10 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

In their remaining time, school psychologists tend to students’ mental health needs by consulting with teachers and families of children who have social, behavioral and emotional problems. Some also lead psychosocial groups, such as grief groups for students who have suffered a loss, or pregnancy prevention programs for at-risk girls. They also assist children and schools during times of crisis, such as following a student suicide.

“It’s a combination specialty,” says Frank C. Worrell, PhD, director of the school psychology program at the University of California, Berkeley. “The solution to a psychology problem may be an academic intervention, and the solution to an academic problem may be a psychological intervention. Recognizing the connection between these worlds is important.”

Not enough hours in the day

Despite the need for school psychologists, they are in short supply. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends that districts employ one school psychologist for every 500 to 700 students. But that’s not happening, says Philip Lazarus, PhD, director of the school psychology program at Florida International University and 2011–12 NASP president.

“In many states, that ratio is more in the neighborhood of one to 2,000, though in some states it goes as high as one to 3,500,” Lazarus says. “We certainly don’t have the number of personnel we feel is necessary.”

With too few personnel to go around, many school psychologists don’t have the time to perform the full range of services they are trained to provide. Though most school psychologists serve two or three schools, it’s not unusual for a single professional to be responsible for visiting five or even seven different schools, says Worrell.

As money becomes tighter, school psychologists may find they’re stretched even thinner. Most school districts haven’t cut school psychologist positions outright, but many have opted not to fill vacant positions, or have shortened annual contracts by a month or two, says Lazarus. “That’s a subtle way students are losing services,” he says.

Rachel Barrón Stroud, PhD, a school psychologist at Hays Consolidated Independent School District outside Austin, Texas, has seen that trend firsthand. “Our district continues to grow, but there’s no talk of adding additional personnel. The needs of students are being met, but the staff continues to get busier,” she says.

Meanwhile, the district has lost technology specialists and academic interventionists, hurting students and staff alike. Without those technology specialists, for instance, school psychologists may have to spend more time trouble-shooting for special-education students who use assistive technology to communicate.

“The job is getting more difficult in terms of time management,” says Barrón Stroud, who still makes time to provide counseling and teacher consultations and to lead two social-skills groups each week. She says she manages to fit in the extra tasks because she regularly takes work home at night. But she adds, “I think, in general, school psychologists feel like they don’t have time to do all the things they’d like to do.”

Changing the conversation

Budget shortfalls are also undermining psychologists’ prevention efforts at schools — even though research suggests schools are often the best places to reach kids (Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 2008).

“Children spend the majority of their day in schools,” says Tammy Hughes, PhD, a professor of counseling, psychology and special education at Duquesne University. “Further, because school psychologists work with parents and teachers, they are uniquely situated to help children across multiple settings.”

But too often, when budget cuts loom, prevention and early intervention are the first to go. “The trimming happens at the prevention end — at the time we have the most ability to influence positive social and emotional development and address symptoms very early,” says Hughes.

School psychologists aren’t the only mental health positions affected. School counselors, social workers and academic interventionists can all be considered nonessential when there’s not enough money to go around. Cutting these positions puts extra stress on teachers, who have fewer resources to help them manage students with behavioral and emotional problems.

“Teachers are getting overwhelmed with responsibilities,” Palomares says. “How much can they do at such a high level of expectation and still be successful?”

Inadvertently adding to the burden is the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which places an emphasis on student testing and school performance. Unfortunately, policymakers have failed to acknowledge the close link between mental health and academic achievement, says Lazarus.

“Students who can’t focus, or are dealing with difficult family problems, won’t succeed in schools no matter how many reforms are put in place by governors or presidents,” he says.

He and others point out that education reform has focused on increasing academic test scores without considering students’ emotional well-being. “And there’s a direct correlation between emotional health and academic success,” Lazarus says.

Bright spots

In spite of the grim economy, school psychologists’ efforts are making significant headway. One positive sign is a new national focus on bullying, says Susan Swearer, PhD, a professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, who participated in the White House Bullying Prevention Conference earlier this year. That focus has helped to bring student mental health to the forefront, she says.

“Issues like bullying really point to the importance of school psychologists being at the leading edge of mental health service delivery for youth. It’s a perfect issue to address the fact that we can’t shortchange mental health services in schools,” she says. “But in this era of dwindling budgets, the [school] leadership has to really prioritize mental health treatment.”

And indeed, some districts are already boosting their focus on students’ mental health. Among them is the Baltimore City Public School System, which employs 128 full-time school psychologists to serve 84,000 students — a ratio of about 1:656. Many of those students come from families of low socioeconomic status and often experience social and emotional difficulties, and school personnel are extremely committed to helping students overcome those difficulties, says Rivka Olley, PhD, who supervises psychological services in the system.

“Unlike a lot of districts, we are known for the fact that our school psychologists are providing mental health services,” she says.

Baltimore’s school psychologists and social workers proactively work with teachers and establish student support teams to help students at the first signs of trouble. They also meet with families in their homes or churches, at coffee shops or local restaurants. “We want to make that connection because that’s what the research shows makes a difference for these kids. It’s really reaching out to the families and bringing them into the loop,” Olley says.

Ultimately, it’s hard to argue against making student mental health a priority. And school psychologists can take a leadership role in making that argument, Hughes says, by reaching out to both administrators and legislators to underscore the importance of investing in students’ mental well-being.

“The potential for impact is enormous,” she adds, “if we can get everyone working in the same direction.”

Kirsten Weir is a writer in Minneapolis.

Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/squeeze.aspx

musings on the madness…con’t.

In Education, School Psychology, School reform, School violence on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at 09:49

i truly believe that there were warning signs (especially in childhood, so more evidence that the schools are one of the BEST resources for this information). when someone does something like this, there is always hindsight about things that were “off” or not right. rarely, if ever, does someone do something this horrific in the absence of even some “signs” that something just isn’t right or this person is at risk. it’s just many people do not realize these correlations (and that would be the first step…education for all). but, with confidentiality and an extremely litigious society looking to blame, blame, blame…what can we (as school employees) do??? if we reported these incidents, could you not see the parents who would threaten to sue because of “confidentiality,” “predetermination of disability,” or some such nonsense?

not to mention how short-staffed and over-worked we are. i used to have regular “lunch bunches” with my kids. i can’t even recall the last time i took time out to eat lunch by myself, let alone ate with kids. i work straight through just trying to keep up with the paperwork, legal issues, meetings, and assessment (i won’t discuss how much time it took me on friday to fill out the needed information for my “brand new” evaluation process…), and trying to fulfill all my “duties and responsibilities.” i am not putting the blame directly on administration or “downtown” as what can they do when funds are cut and cut again, programs are eradicated, and we are doing the job of two or three people?

it’s a trickle down effect from the “reformers” and a society that would rather pay athletes than those who teach and work with their children. that said, this “education reform” has all the wrong priorities. instead of blaming the teachers, the unions, etc., cutting salaries and programs, inventing new curricula, money needs to be pouring into education and NOT for reform and new tests and ways to evaluate data.

instead of being able to give my email or number to a kid who may be in distress and alone and in need of a professional to speak to, I WOULD BE FIRED! we are not allowed. while we pour money into “celebrity” we take money away from the very place that turns these kids into celebrities, doctors, teachers, athletes, scientists, etc….the schools. the place children spend 8+ hours a day, 180 days a year. the place where we can identify and intervene in things before they become school shootings.

and we can. and we do. it is just to a much lesser extent because of time, money, and, of course, CYA. what if the shooter did have a trusted adult to call? i am not saying he would have or things would have been different, but i can tell you about times i have intervened (even going to the hospital with a suicidal child after school) and things changed. but, as i said, this is NOT allowed anymore. and, while i DO understand the reasons this is not allowed, i wonder if we were not trying so hard to CYA and keep things on a less personal level, would this have happened. if we weren’t afraid of “making waves” or the massive amounts of paperwork, new curricula every few years, or having so much to do that it stops us from connecting with the very kids we work with, would this have happened. we don’t need more criterion-referenced tests, we don’t need personal evaluation instruments that take 50 hours or more, we don’t need to blame the unions and the teachers…we need to take a hard look at our priorities AS A NATION and realize that something needs to change and it’s not the curriculum. instead of piling money into failing banks and auto companies, we need to save our schools and our kids. because, ultimately, the information you can get from those that spend hours every day with your kids…THAT is more important than ANY test score. we are reacting when we need to be intervening. hindsight is always 20/20, but i truly believe there were signs that went unnoticed or worse…unspoken.

musings on the madness…

In Education, Musings, School Psychology, School violence on Saturday, 15 December 2012 at 13:00

the real madness.  not the madness of the occurrences in newtown.  education madness.  how this MIGHT have been avoided.  or at least how i feel i could have done something…were we not focusing on the wrong things.

1.  he has “some” kind of mental illness…

there are only a handful of “mental illnesses” with a higher than average propensity toward violence or carrying out violence. and, even fewer to do something of this magnitude. i have my suspicions as to what, if any, diagnosis, this person has (and, let me give you a clue, it’s not an autism spectrum disorder (asd), a learning disability, or obsessive compulsive disorder (ocd). at any rate, while NO unstable person should have access to a gun, i don’t want people thinking that this boils down to some mental illness and that being an excuse.  unless you are saying “someone MUST have seen the signs” as they have been known and written about for YEARS.

2. we already know the “signs.”  research.  read the literature.  BE INFORMED!

to me, what this shows so very clearly (more than the talk of second amendment rights OR gun control)

3.  i am not advocating that we shouldn’t talk of such things, just not now.

is the need for EARLY INTERVENTION via better early mental health screenings and resources, more education regarding mental health, resources for help…i could go on and on. ironic (but in an horrifically tragic way) that the SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST was among those killed.  SHE would have been one of the most qualified to screen, support, and follow children such as these (and, we DO have them). as a school psychologist in the age of education funding cuts and one person doing the work of what was once divided by two or three positions, WE CAN’T DO IT ALL.

4.  you know, i keep asking for the to be one of my super powers, but no luck yet.  maybe i can make it one of my evaluative goals for next year…

unfortunately, things like just taking time to get to know the kids, spending time doing things like reaching out, mentoring, being a real part of a school (as opposed to your FOUR schools) are difficult to come by.  i am confident we (i am speaking as a school psychologist, but counselors, teachers, administrators, etc. can tell you A LOT about your kid/s) can be instrumental in screening and providing resources and intervention if we could just go back to doing all the other things we are good at

5. and, yes, we are good clinicians and do like our assessment, but we are not merely “testers” as much as we have been relegated to the role, we are not taking it gladly

i say this talk needs to be about stopping this crazy education-reform-value-added-data-driven madness and make education and mental health services (especially early INTERVENTION programs, NOT after the fact!) a priority in this country.  

6.  look i love sports and entertainment as much as the next, but there’s something off about a country that cares more about “reality” tv than the reality their kids face every day…the place they spend the majority of their time every week

PEOPLE! many times we are with your children more than you are! we mold YOUR most precious asset.

7.  it really should be.  if not, check yourself

why in the world would you want to CUT funding to education? why would you want LESS resources allotted? i don’t get it.  we pour money into entertainment, sports, alcohol…education should come first. these are kids. YOUR kids.

i just think we are focusing on the wrong things.  in the end, children and adults lost their lives.  other children will be haunted by this for days, weeks, months, and years to come.  how many kids need to be killed?  we can stop this now.

NOW is the time…

In Education, School Psychology, School violence on Saturday, 15 December 2012 at 09:14

Now Is the Time to Talk Guns, Mental Illness

By: Roland Martin


Editor’s note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House.” He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, “Washington Watch with Roland Martin.”

(CNN) — Enough!

Enough with putting off tomorrow what we should be talking about today. Enough with being afraid to step on someone’s delicate sensibilities when it comes to the Second Amendment. Enough with elected leaders who are too cowardly to confront the National Rifle Association and their ardent supporters. Enough with moms and dads and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and pastors and deacons who are afraid to make public the private anguish of mental illness.

Enough! Enough! Enough!

Enough with just asking for thoughts and prayers. Enough with just hugging our children. Enough with leaving flowers and teddy bears at a makeshift memorial.

It’s time for action. It’s time for people of conscience to, in the words of the late civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, be “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

America, 20 of our children are dead, and we are all paralyzed, not knowing what to do or say. I’ve shed tears for the lives of the innocent children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Many of you have likely done the same.

We witnessed the president of the United States, Barack Obama, stand before the country fighting back tears talking about the lives lost, reminding of us other tragedies involving guns and sick individuals behind the trigger.

And every time this happened, those who refuse to discuss gun control are quick to say, “Now is not the time.”

One day after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas said it was time to talk about this nation’s fascination with guns. Instead of being hailed as an honest communicator, he was vilified for having the audacity to raise the subject at the halftime of a football game.

Have we become such a nation of cowards that we are desperate to not discuss a real issue, instead saying, “Please, shut up so I can watch the game?”

Yet today, we are glued to the television, unable to turn from the scene in Newtown, Connecticut, eager to find every new detail as to what led to the horrific mass murder of a classroom full of kindergartners.

It wasn’t time to talk about this when Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot in the head, and six others were killed in January 2011. It wasn’t time in July 2012 when 12 people were blown away in a movie theater in Colorado. Seven were killed at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee near August, and we were told then, “Now is not the time.”

So, please, exactly when is the time?

This nation, whether we want to admit it not, is one that is fascinated and enraptured with guns. It courses through our veins like heroin shooting through the arms of an addict. We love to see it in our movies, video games, on television, and then we’ll fiercely defend the right to bear arms, all while flagrantly waving the U.S. Constitution in the face of anyone who objects.

There is absolutely no reason why we need as many guns in America. None. It simply shouldn’t be the way of life others are so quick to defend. There is absolutely no doubt that we need tough and stringent gun control. Not solely to prevent murders like those in Connecticut, but to remove the option when someone is angered, depressed or in the case of too many, mentally ill.

And that’s the second issue that it’s time that we come to grips with in this country: We are a nation that has chosen to either medicate or ignore altogether.

“They have a few screws loose.” “You know he’s off his rocker.” We’ve heard all of the terms. We often laugh and dismiss the mentally ill in America, choosing to cross the street when we see the homeless veteran screaming and cussing at anyone who walks by. When it’s time for budget cuts, those most vulnerable often get thrown out first.

For years American cities, counties and states have shirked their responsibility when it comes to the mentally ill, choosing to abandon helping them, but quick to build a new prison to incarcerate them when a law is broken.

Now we wait to see if the Newtown, Connecticut, killer will be the latest Jared Lee Loughner (Gabby Giffords), Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), or James Holmes (Colorado movie theater all individuals who were described as mentally unstable.

Too often the warning signs were there, but ignored for one reason or another.

Could any of these tragedies have been prevented? No one knows for sure. But I sure as hell would rather try than have to be a first responder and look a parent in the eye and say, “Sir or ma’am, I’m sorry. But your baby is dead, killed in the classroom along with 19 other classmates.”

See, now is the time that they are having that conversation. Now is the time those parents are grieving the loss of their babies. Now is the time parents in Newtown, Connecticut are eschewing Christmas plans to prepare for a funeral.

America, now is the time for us to stop living in denial. We must address guns. We must address mental illness. We must have the courage and conviction to put aside our political views and deal with the task at hand.


Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/14/opinion/martin-gun-control/index.html

animal cruelty is not just animal cruelty…we all suffer.

In Animal Welfare, General Psychology, Humane Education, Personality Disorders, School violence on Saturday, 15 December 2012 at 07:03

i have long espoused the connection between animal cruelty and future deviant/violent behaviors.  i try to explain to those that might not have the same bleeding heart for animals and animal cruelty that i have (it guts me each and every time), should they not be concerned with the violence that the animals suffer (and i don’t really understand how not, but i am sure there are people who believe an animal is a creature for us to have dominion over and we can do what we please or that there are more important causes out there that need help and support), please take note, that choosing NOT to deal HARSHLY with this type of behavior will get us ALL in the long run.  it is said that most serial killers and school shooters were cruel to animals earlier in life.  to me, to ignore such behavior and play it off as something they will ‘grow out of ‘or a result of what is seen on tv, in movies, etc., is negligent knowing the statistics and predictive validity of such behaviors.  you see, those that are cruel to animals, more often than not, “graduate” to levels of cruelty that are inflicted not on animals, but on people.  so, should you not be incensed, disgusted, enraged, gutted, immensely saddened, etc….by the kid who set his dog on fire, or the kid who microwaved his cat, or the sheer magnitude of crimes inflicted upon animals daily with absolutely no regard for their suffering (there are so very many, and they are so very shocking, horrific, and born of pure evil)…should this not sicken you or move you into action, please…realize that at some point people will more likely than not have to deal with the aftermath of this cruelty when it extends to people.  

please, please, please…be aware, be vigilant, and above all, fight for stricter animal cruelty laws.  if not for the innocent animals, then for those that will be on the receiving end of the violence that stems from those that are able to inflict cruelty on animals.




i have no words right now…

In General Psychology, School Psychology, School violence, Uncategorized on Friday, 14 December 2012 at 17:14



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