Doctors have finally started talking about the long-standing practice to medicate low-income kids with Adderall so they can compete in the school environment. To those of you who follow the Adderall debates, this confession should come as no surprise. People in both the medical community and the academic community have been predicting school would come to this. In a test-based classroom world, Adderall is a major boost to anyone’s performance and it shouldn’t be only rich kids who have access to it.
The New Yorker reports that it’s so common for high performing kids to use Adderall as a study aid that even very bright kids often need to pop Adderall pills just to stay on a level playing field with their peers. (Stuyvesant is a good example of this sort of school. One of the most prestigious public high schools in the country, but renowned for being extremely focused on testing.)
It makes sense to me that that such a wide range of kids need to be medicated in the public school system. The system is not about the kids. The system is about keeping teachers well paid while they occupy the kids so the parents can work. The system is about career planning for adults, not education for kids. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this deal with the devil is that if parents want to keep their kids occupied while they go to work, the parents have to work in higher paying jobs so they can afford to live in higher-income school districts.
So your aspirations for which school you send your kids to dictates your career choice. And your aspirations for which kids your kid competes with dictates your kid’s off-label drug use.
If you look at it this way, it’s no surprise that the most expensive private schools in the country are moving toward a homeschool model—child-directed, customized learning, with heavy parent involvement (often from parents rich enough to have one hanging out at the school all day long).
It is a privilege of the rich to not have to medicate kids to cope with the school environment. And it’s a privilege of the financially secure to not have to send one parent to work just so you can send the kids to school.
So do you know how to raise your kids like they are rich kids? Take them out of school so they are in an environment where Adderall isn’t necessary. And stop working so hard to live in an expensive school district.
The real cost of sending your kids to public school is pervasive financial and emotional insecurity for the whole family. Which is why the recent surge in homeschooling families is among those with incomes between $50K and $150K. These are the people who understand that the cost of sending kids to school is way too high.