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I’m dating myself here, but remember all the media coverage of crack babies? Remember the movie-of-the-week stories that tried to “scare people straight” by showing the horrific effects on the infants of crack/cocaine addicted mothers? Turns out something else has a far greater impact on these kids’ outcomes than their mothers’ drug habits. According to one long-term study begun in 1989, “Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine.”

A researcher in the UK has completed a study that seems to indicate that genetics play a greater role in student achievement than factors such as school performance. Professor Robert Plomin, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London says that “some form of genetic scanning may eventually allow schools to identify pupils with particular academic weaknesses at an early age.” I’m conflicted about the idea of using a child’s genome to guide his or her educational opportunities. I also wonder if these study results don’t potentially leave the door open to giving up on a student who’s struggling rather than trying different approaches.

Remember Eisel v. Board of Education? It was 1991, and resulted in a ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court that schools “have to use reasonable means to attempt to prevent suicide when they are made aware of a student’s suicidal intent.” Remember also, that the ASCA ethical standards regarding confidentiality have been changed from a requiring “clear and imminent danger” to “serious and foreseeable harm.” Now go read this, about Rogers v. Christina School District.

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