Dealing with mental health woes of children in West Virginia schools

May 26, 2019

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on mental health challenges:

Public schools are supposed to focus on teaching children, not filling gaps in nutrition, health care and mental wellness services. Yet in part because those lapses become evident in classrooms — and affect students’ abilities to learn — educators have had to do something about them.

Emotional and behavioral challenges among children in West Virginia have increased, in large measure because of the drug abuse crisis. Older youngsters may be victims of it directly. Younger ones often are collateral damage because of parents’ substance addictions. A substantial portion of the state Supreme Court’s caseload involves children removed from homes for their own safety.

Compassion for Mountain State children ought to be enough to prompt us to provide more help for those dealing with mental challenges. Now, however, we have another reason to act: a mandate from the federal government.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded our state government was violating the civil rights of children with special emotional and behavioral needs. In a nutshell, the federal complaint is that our state institutionalizes too many children, sometimes out of state and far from their families.

Last week, it was revealed the state has entered into an agreement with the DOJ to resolve the problem. It amounts to a pledge by state government that West Virginia will do more to ensure children are provided mental health services in their communities and, if possible, while living at home.

Coincidentally, state legislators are considering a wide-ranging package of what they hope will be improvements to public schools. One suggestion has been to provide more counselors and psychologists in schools.

Doing so could be a key in compliance with the DOJ settlement agreement.

It is tempting to suggest more in-school mental health services would be killing two birds with one stone, because it could help placate federal officials while helping teachers do their jobs better. That would be misleading: This is not a challenge to be “killed” easily or quickly.

Suffice it to say some West Virginia children need help that can be given to them in their schools. That alone ought to be enough to prompt legislators to provide it — and taxpayers to pay the bill with no complaints.

The Wall Street Journal on the effects of Airbnb in cities:

When legacy businesses are threatened by new competitors, too often they respond by lobbying for regulation to quash them. It’s notable, then, that Marriott recently announced it is starting a new home-rental business, putting the world’s biggest hotel operator in direct competition with Airbnb, the world’s largest home-rental business.

Many in the hotel industry have dismissed Airbnb or attributed its success to stealing business by running unregulated and untaxed illegal hotels. There has been little hard research on exactly how Airbnb affects the hotel market. But now three professors in hotel management and marketing ... have analyzed Airbnb’s “disruptive impact” in 10 key markets. Their findings make a case for old-fashioned competition. ...

The time frame covers the decade after Airbnb was founded in 2008.

Over this period the available accommodations in these cities dramatically increased, in good part thanks to the entry of Airbnb. The researchers weren’t surprised to find a resulting loss in hotel revenue. For each 1% increase in Airbnb supply in a city, hotel revenue declined by 0.02%. ...

The news is brighter for consumers. The arrival of Airbnb has meant more choices — including rooms less expensive than in a hotel — and the resulting competition seems to have brought down room prices in hotels. ...

Beneficiaries of Airbnb also include restaurants and shops where more visitors mean more customers. Mr. Dogru, one of the co-authors, notes that some people like staying in a hotel whose name and brand they trust, but Airbnb appeals to people seeking unique experiences that reflect the place they’re visiting.

As with any disruptive new competitor, companies such as Airbnb bring out the regulators. And here the authors have a warning. “The application of excessive legislation driven by the interests of incumbent industries,” they note, “has the potential to stifle innovation that ultimately benefits the consumer” and harms economic growth. Let the competition continue.

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