Screening for mental health too complex a task for schools

Regarding the Jan. 20 article "Screening a child's mind": It would be a grave - and dangerous - mistake to have schools screen children for mental illness.

As a learning specialist for students who often have associated mental-health issues, and who are drawn from many different school systems, I can attest to the fact that far too many students are medicated unnecessarily, often at the insistence of school personnel. Others, who might benefit from medication, are denied it, and are labeled "just bad kids."

Usually these mistakes occur because the process of accurately screening a child for any neurobiological disability is extremely complex\, requiring highly trained specialists (already in short supply), and the education and cooperation of the family.

My experience with most of our school systems is that they have neither the trained personnel nor the time to meet these standards. Additionally, having Congress mandate such screening could turn out like the No Child Left Behind legislation, which sets some unreasonable goals for schools without providing the money to attain them.

Mental health screening is important, but a better approach would be to have more extensive training for pediatricians, who have established trust with families and children, in detecting neurobiological disabilities of all kinds.
Clare Finkelman
Nyack, N.Y.

Congress pacing presidential powers

Regarding the Jan. 20 article "To the Founders, Congress was king" about how the Founding Fathers would be astounded at the increase in power of the president: The Founders would likewise be aghast at the current state of the Congress.

Membership was never intended to be a career, as it is today. One can talk about the increase in the size of the president's staff, but take a look at all the committees of Congress and their staffs.

No, the presidency has merely kept up with the growth of the Congress so that there is a balance of power. There are so few contested seats in Congress that these are like positions for life.

If there were term limits on Congress such as we have with the president, there would be less concern over any perceived imbalance of power.
David Litster
Boise, Idaho

Religious illiteracy weakens US

Stephen Prothero's Jan. 20 Opinion piece, "A nation of religious illiterates," is well worth thinking about. When we look at what has happened to schools today compared with when they first began, it's a wonder that they still exist.

If we look at how schools began here we would find that churches started schools. And elementary schools used the Bible as a teaching tool. Now to even talk about God or the history of the Israelites in school is a crime. Then we wonder why our children look up to movie stars and athletes as role models. If it is all right for them to take drugs and live together without marriage, the youngsters can do the same.
Conrad P. Lachel
Springdale, Ark.

No more backtracking, thanks to Boeing

Regarding the Jan. 21 article "Boeing shrugs off Airbus's new behemoth": The news that Boeing is building planes for direct flights rather than hub flights is cheering.

I, for one, am tired of backtracking to a hub in order to switch planes and go to where I wanted to go in the first place.

The big airlines with their big hubs are not user-friendly. Hurray to their succumbing to the competition from less expensive, direct-flight airlines.
Ron Mepwith
Sturgis, S.D.

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