School Of Scientology

Here's five year-old Suri Cruise in a matching pink hat and shawl with lavender wrist purse and unknown yellow doll (please tell me that's not lipstick), who started school this year at a school with Scientology ties founded three years ago by actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

It's called New Leadership Academy in Calabasas, Calif, and it's private.  It uses some controversial techniques including "study technology," developed by L. Ron Hubbard. There's also a lot of sculpting.  Apparently there are schools like this all across the country, most notably the Delphi Schools chain.  And yes, there's one in Chicago (on Roosevelt Road).  You apparently don't even have to be a Scientologist to apply.

What next?  You know the drill:  Scientology charter schools!   (Not for sure, I'm just saying it'll probably be proposed, right?) More info from Slate here.

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  • I've heard that there's a Scientology-led effort in Chicago against children being treated for psychiatric disorders and their therapeutic schools. Does anyone know about this and have details? If true, it's not surprising.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    The question you raise about Scientology and special education day and residential schools for students identified with very serious emotional behavior disorders is an interesting one. There have been members of the Church of Scientology operating in the Chicago metro area through an organization called the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which opposes the use and administration of all serotonergic medications on children including Prozac, Sarafem,
Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Serzone, Remeron, Anafranil,
Fen-Phen, Redux and Meridia as well as the new atypical antipsychotics Zyprexa,
Geodon, Seroquel and Abilify. Since I often work with families of students with severe psychological problems I have come in contact with this organization indirectly.

    Here is the problem in relation to the Scientology position on this issue as far as I can understand it. They raise very legitimate concerns about the long-term impact of these medications on children, some of which have not been approved by the FDA for administration to children others of which have been approved. They also raise concerns about the statistical increase in the use of these drugs in the US.

    But unfortunately their solution may be insane itself, herb formulas containing things like Skullcap, Valerian, Oregon Grape root, Barley grass, Alfalfa, Kamut, St. John’s wort, Mullein leaf, Lobelia, Gotu Kola, Ginkgo biloba, Sarsaparilla and Dandelion. The reality is that families with children who are exhibiting out of control behaviors and have been clinically diagnosed with psychiatric illness need help. Schools and special education, be it in regular or therapeutic schools cannot provide much immediate relief using various behavior modification techniques. Medications sometimes can and sometimes cannot provide this help.

    For poor children who are on Medicaid the problems with psychological medication are simply huge. Psychotropic medication should be done only with frequent and evidence-based monitoring to ensure the most appropriate medication plan with frequent revisions based on age and other developmental changes. But current Medicaid rules and real funding I believe make this not really possible for these children. Currently only 16% of psychologists and psychiatrists in Illinois participate in the Medicaid program.

    All of these problems are being intensified by the current fiscal crisis of Illinois and many community mental health providers are currently not getting paid. The last data I saw indicated that the average agency is owed around $900,000 at any one moment in time. These providers has experienced a 14% reduction in funding from the state in the last state budgets and cannot maintain services poor children need. So it is not surprising Scientology’s message on the very real problems of medication of children is receiving a good reception in the Chicago area.

    Rod Estvan

  • Thanks for posting that. Tricky google. Probably would have never figured it out if I didn’t read the comments on this page.
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