Tag: education

Illinois’s failure to care for mentally-ill children

This article is a summary and response to The Atlantic’s article, “The Kids Who Are Cleared to Leave Psychiatric Hospitals — But Can’t“.


In Illinois, some children in Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) custody are being held in psychiatric hospitals much longer than medically required. 

mental health scrabble

The goal of psychiatric hospitals is to stabilize children and create treatment plans for outside doctors and centers to follow through on. Once a child is stabilized, they are supposed to be released. These facilities are not meant to handle long-term treatment, but in Illinois, they are increasingly being used to do just that.

DCFS is required to move the children in their care to foster homes or residential treatment centers as quickly as possible, but they have been struggling for years to find placements for children in a reasonable amount of time, so children suffer in these psychiatric hospitals which are not designed for long-term care.

While there are not good statistics available about how states nationwide handle children’s stays in mental health facilities, the data available does suggest other states also have issues relating to placement. However, some have suggested that the situation in Illinois is one of the most pressing in the nation.

Through information received via FOIA requests, it has come to light that between 2015 and 2017, on average, 1 of every 5 days spent in treatment were not medically required. This overstay, which includes about 30% of DCFS’s roughly 6K psychiatric hospitalizations of children in their care, totals about 27K days, or almost 75 years.

Of the more than 800 children who were held past their ability to be released, 80%  were held at least 10 days more than needed, 40% were held at least 1 month, and 15% had to wait at least 2 months, and sometimes significantly longer.

“There was a girl who spent so much time in one [psychiatric hospital] that hospital staff were asked to bring her a winter coat. She had been admitted in the summer.”

These needlessly long hospital stays have a number of negative consequences for children. Children can fall behind in their social development very quickly, and develop severe emotional challenges which make them more difficult to place. They can also lead to educational delays, which can be very difficult. Children receive infrequent visits from teachers during their stay, and while some have an hour or two of instruction per day, many receive less. The school work they do often consist only of worksheets. In some cases, children are hospitalized so long past when they were eligible for discharge that they are forced to repeat grades in school.

And importantly, these children are being denied their right to live in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to them, a right which is guaranteed to them by Illinois law.

Beyond the negative effects on children’s lives, and the abuse of their rights, this failure by DCFS is expensive. Between 2015 and 2017, DCFS has wasted about $7M on hospitalizations that lasted longer than medically required. The alternatives, like residential treatment and foster care, are better for children AND less expensive.

However, Illinois DCFS has struggled to improve. It has gone through about 10 directors in the last 8 or 9 years, leading to haphazard policies enacted with each new crisis. In the end, it’s the children who continue to suffer.

[E]ven when there are beds available in other facilities, some of them refuse to admit children who have spent months at a psychiatric hospital—their extended stays are apparently taken as a sign that the children are particularly difficult to treat. In these cases, the longer they’re held in psychiatric hospitals, the more difficult it becomes to move them to the proper settings.

Jordan Peterson’s “Pre-Interview”

Jordan Peterson

Before the Munk Debate on political correctness began, the moderator interviewed each participant individually. This is a paraphrased summary of Peterson’s pre-debate interview.


What have you been doing for the last few months?

Since I’m a psychologist, I’ve been concentrating on psychological work at the individual level. I’m on a tour right now, and I’ve talked in about 26 cities, and there are about 60 more.

When I talk with people afterward, they tell me about their attempts to put their lives together– that they were unhappy in their relationships, not doing very well in their careers, or in a dark place for one reason or another. They tell me that reading and listening to what I have been saying has been helpful to them. So, that’s great, you know?

 

How do you think your work relates to this debate tonight? You’ve talked a lot about political correctness.

That’s right, I’m no fan of the radical left. And just because I’m no fan of the radical left doesn’t mean I support the radical right. It’s just that Universities are dominated by left-wing thinking, and the collectivist doctrine that unites them is unacceptably harmful in the long term, and that disturbs me.

There’s every reason to have a left-wing. It’s not going away because it’s partly temperamental, but also because our society produces hierarchies and the people who are inevitably stuck at the bottom need a voice, which is the left.

But, just as the right can go too far, so can the left. But when the left has gone too far is not well defined, and to me, that’s not acceptable, because we know the left can go too far, and are going too far in Universities right now.

Another thing that bothers me about political correctness is the idea that someone can use it to say that they are the only ones with empathy. First of all, empathy is not even close to enough, and too much of it can lead to terrible things. Second of all, no, no one has a monopoly on empathy.

And to combine all that with a philosophy that assigns people their identity via group membership and to read battles between these groups into history and our current society is obviously dangerous if you know anything about history.

 

What do you think of the idea of privilege? The idea that certain people, because of their race, class, or gender, have enjoyed historical privileges, and that we need to share with those who did not have those historical privileges?

I think it’s a good example of conflating empathy with ideology. The majority in any society has privilege because society is set up so that the majority of people can do well, then you have to build in protections for minorities. To conflate that with race is not acceptable.

And when we talk about “historical” privileges, what span of time do you mean? If my ancestors 150 years ago were privileged, does that mean I should pay for that now in some way?

How can you be sure that my specific ancestors were privileged? My grandmother was a cleaning woman for farms in central Saskatchewan in the 1930s. She cooked for threshing crews, she chopped wood piles that were a big as the damn cabin to get through the winter. My father grew up in a log cabin until he was 5. It had like 3 rooms. Where is the privilege?

I see, it accrues to me as a consequence of my race, so we have to have a discussion about race. Within the toxic left, everything is about group identity. And even if we say that someone is differentially privileged from a historical perspective, then what? Are we’re going to make everybody, on the basis of their race, pay for some historical iniquity?

And they also view the history of the relationships between men and women as fundamentally one of oppression. They don’t believe that men and women fundamentally cooperated throughout history to bring themselves out of catastrophes. They don’t see it that way despite the fact that in 1895 the typical westerner lived on less than a dollar a day in today’s terms, far below the UN’s guidelines for abject poverty. Despite all that, they say that the fundamental reality of the world is that men oppressed women.

 

There is an idea that men need to check their privilege, and that women are awakening to their power in society. What is your response to that?

Discussions about power send a shudder down my spine because part of the post-modern doctrine is that everything is about power. Hierarchies are only about power when they’ve already transformed into tyrannies.

Reliable birth control and menstrual sanitation opened the playing field for women. Women were fundamentally welcomed into every position of authority and competence that could be opened to them. They were opposed, but fundamentally welcomed. It’s at the point where almost ¾ of humanities and social sciences students are women, and they dominate the healthcare field. Some will argue that it would not have happened without political pressure, but that’s not the case. It’s transformed utterly in 50 years. How fast do you expect the transformation to take place?

I’m not against equality of opportunity. I’m not sure what would have to be wrong with you for you to be against equality of opportunity. Even if you were fundamentally selfish, equality of opportunity would be in your own benefit. As for equality of outcome, well…

 

Where do you think the debate goes from here? Do you think this is a cultural spasm, or do you think there is something more fundamental happening here, a new tribalism?

It depends on how we each behave in the next 10 years. Things could get better everywhere really fast, or we could degenerate into our 20th-century tribalisms.

There’s a lot of pressure in both directions. I’m glad that people are taking the material I’ve produced to heart. I’m saddened that everything is presented as a political argument when it’s not. Despite the fact that the discussion around political correctness is presented in political terms, it’s not actually political, it’s theological and philosophical. It’s presented that way because radical leftist collectivist ideology views everything through the political lens, as hierarchies at each other’s throats in a power struggle.

The free speech discussion is interesting because from that ideological perspective you can’t have free speech. It’s just each group making statements in order to advance their own power. That’s the basis of the whole system.

In a very, very dark way, the funny thing about this post-modern insistence on identity is the emergence of intersectionality. You have all of these groups, but how do their identities interact? Gender and ethnicity are considered almost infinitely divisible, so how are you going to try to control for all those variables? But they will try to do that before they give up their ideology.

The reason the West decided on a radical individual perspective is because everyone is so unique that you can split their group right down to the level of the individual.

I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I think the Universities have done themselves in.


You can read a transcript of Peterson’s interview here. It has been edited for style, meaning that things such as “um” and “you know” have been removed, and grammar corrected.

You can view the original video of the interview here. 


This is part of a larger series focusing on the Munk Debate on Political Correctness.

Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian professor of Psychology and international best-selling author,  who has recently come to international attention due to statements that he has made in regards to feminism, identity politics, and issues around political correctness.

Is he a member of the Alt-Right?

While there have been some attempts to connect him to the “alt-right” because members of the movement read his works and invite him onto their programs, that characterization relies on a lack of examination of what he says and writes. On a number of occasions, he actively criticises members of the alt-right for buying into identity politics or other intellectual traditions he considers to be harmful.

Support by his Fans

Back before he achieved his current level of notoriety, Peterson began his YouTube channel, posting the lectures he gave at the University of Toronto. And, since it was YouTube, everyone was able to access his lectures for free. He began a Patreon account so that his fans, if they wanted to, could donate money to him on a monthly basis to support his efforts.

Over time, as he became more well known, he attracted more fans, and more people began to support him via Patreon. While fans decide if they will donate, how much, and are free to cancel their future donations at any time if they want to, he currently receives about $50-60K (USD) per month.

This has drawn outrage from some of his critics, who feel that he is somehow swindling or fleecing his fans, because they are simply giving him money, with no product or service in return for their money. This, however, shows a lack of understanding about the nature and aim of Patreon. Fans are, in fact, receiving something in exchange for their monthly donations in the form of continued videos from Peterson, as well as the book which he published this year.

Further Information

For a more detailed overview of  Jordan Peterson, I have created a 3-page document with a timeline of his education, employment, and publishing history.

Click Here for Jordan Peterson Overview


Here is a link to a directory of information I have compiled on Jordan Peterson.

Julian Schmoke Jr.

Julian Schmoke Jr. was recently appointed by Betsy DeVos to head the Education Department’s Student Aid Enforcement unit. This move generated some controversy due to his ties to DeVry University, which he would now be policing.

Despite the controversy, information on Mr. Schmoke is difficult to find beyond the same new stories reworded, regurgitating the same quotes. His brother seems to be the more notable figure.

However, with a bit of dedication, I was able to find some information on his previous employment, though some of the businesses have been renamed, and others appear to be defunct.

Earlier Career

Despite his work in education in recent decades, the more interesting part of his career, in my opinion, is the earlier portion.

Graduating from Dartmouth, within the next decade he found work at the David Sarnoff Research Center, which has contributed immensely to the lifestyle we live today. They developed Color Television as well as the LED.

After that, he went to work for Raytheon in their developmental laboratories, before eventually working with Bendix which enjoyed a few contracts with NASA.

Further Information

For a more detailed overview of Julian Schmoke Jr. I have created a 3-page document with his professional timeline, as well as a brief description of his employers (the ones I could find information on).

Click Here for Julian Schmokes Jr. Overview