Month: <span>February 2022</span>

Student mental health is a major concern in Texas schools, but state leaders don’t care

There are many things Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their legislative allies should be doing for children instead of attacking their schools and teachers with repeated lies about critical race theory and “pornographic” books.

Near the top of our state’s neglect list is a mental health crisis among public school students, which has worsened during the pandemic. A report (see below) by the Hopeful Futures Campaign, a coalition of national organizations working to improve mental health supports in America’s schools, gives an idea how serious the problem in Texas is.

Among the state’s 5 million-plus public school students, 363,000 suffer from major depression, and 255,000 of those do not receive treatment.

And what is state government doing about it? Not nearly enough.

The ratio of school psychologists to students in Texas schools is one to 4,962. Mental health experts recommend one school psychologist for every 500 students.

The ratio of school social workers to students is one to 13,604, which is not even in the same universe as the recommended ratio of one social worker to 250 kids.

The ratio of school counselors to students in our schools is one to 423, almost double the recommended ratio of one to 250 students. And many of those counselors spend all or most of their time on wasteful STAAR testing.

Overall, Texas’ ranking among the states for youth mental health services has fallen steeply during the pandemic from 28th in 2020 to 41st this year.

About 60 percent of the children enrolled in Texas public schools are low-income, which means the schools are about their only source of help, meager as it is, for mental health services.

Abbott, Patrick et al are neglecting an important part of their responsibilities – the support of public education. Instead, they are trying to destroy it, seeking the reelection support of voters who don’t know any better than to believe their lies. And their attacks keep adding to the stress of these vulnerable students and their teachers.

Lives are at stake, but they don’t care.

Clay Robison

Texas’s School Mental Health Report Card

Being “tethered to reality” is optional in today’s politics; some politicians are trying to make it optional in public schools as well

The Cult of Ignorance marches on, as absurd and dangerous as ever. Now, even butterflies—and their keepers — aren’t safe, and public schools may be next.

You may have heard that the National Butterfly Center, a nature conservatory on the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley, has become a target of QAnon conspiracy theories falsely claiming the center is tied to human trafficking.

This is part of an old extreme claim, long promoted on social media, that Hillary Clinton and other high-ranking Democrats are behind a pedophilia ring. The headquarters were alleged to be a family pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C, prompting an armed man to fire a shot in the establishment a few years ago. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

There was absolutely no truth to the claim about the pizza parlor, and there is absolutely no truth to the claim about the butterfly center. The center hasn’t been under investigation by any law enforcement agency for human trafficking. But it caught the attention of people who would rather believe lies than the truth when it dared to file a lawsuit against the administration of Liar-in-Chief Donald Trump in 2017 over Trump’s proposed border wall. The lawsuit, still pending in federal court, said construction of the wall threatened the center’s butterfly habitat.

The suit prompted tweets falsely accusing the center’s executive director, Marianna Trevino-Wright, of human trafficking. Then some nitwit congressional candidate from Virginia showed up, demanding access through the center to the Rio Grande “to see all the illegals crossing on the raft.”

Trevino-Wright has been the subject of threats by phone, email and Twitter. So, the center was closed indefinitely this week because of safety concerns for its staff and the public. An educational and environmental institution not in any way connected to politics has nevertheless become the latest victim of the increasing insanity of right-wing politics.

“It’s incredibly distressing that the United States has come to the point where a really significant part of the public is just no longer tethered to reality,” Jeffrey Glassberg, the founder of the North American Butterfly Association,” told The Texas Tribune.

It also is incredibly distressing and anger-provoking that the alleged top “leaders” of this state – all of whom know better than to believe the QAnon lies – sit back and refuse to publicly denounce them because they are afraid to offend would-be voters. Pandering is much easier. They wink and nod and encourage the lies, including the Big Lie about the 2020 election being “stolen” from Trump, and use that as an excuse to make it more difficult for their political opponents to vote.

These “leaders,” beginning with the governor, also have spent much of the past year spreading lies about public education – from false allegations of critical race theory to false claims about pornography in schools. It may take years for the public education system to recover, but they don’t care, as long as ignorance continues to help them get elected.

Threats from QAnon conspiracists have forced a butterfly sanctuary in the Rio Grande Valley to close

Clay Robison