Archive for January 16th, 2007


Montana quarter to debut on January 29.

Montana Republican honors MLK with a real zinger. Classy.

Montana legislators work to reign in short-term debt. Matt Singer supports the effort.

Meet the Democratic future of the state: ten Montana legislators under 35.

Colby mulls the blogo-debate of SB 15. Good stuff.

Dean admits political opportunities in the West influenced the decision to make Denver the home of the 2008 convention.

Looks like I’m in the middle on abortion. I’m beginning to think I’m a d*mn centrist.

Insurance company slammed for wrongly processing a Katrina claim. Uh oh, Spaghetti-Os, accountability is bad news for the industry…

Kos calls for new ideas on campaign finance reform, because the old ideas aren’t working.

Guess who’s the environmentalist, Ted Stevens or Barak Obama?

Obama is in. (See the video.) Does this mean Hilary will opt out?

Webb to response to Bush State of the Union speech. Ouch! That’s gotta hurt!

Bush’s approval rating drops drops after his escalation speech. Go figure.

“Unacceptable”: I don’t think that word means what Bush thinks it does.

Bush v Constitution, part 4,561: a number of Senate-confirmed judicial appointees have been pushed out of office for “unknown reasons” and replaced with Bush-appointed “interim” judges. What the h*ll is going on?

Dana Lithwick thinks the Bush administration, in the case of Gitmo, doesn’t really give a hoot about terrorism, but is just trying to expand executive power.

State Department counter-terrorism expert claims we’ve “lost ground” against terrorism because of Iraq.

A bunch of Internet conspiracy theorists believe the government is trying to beam voices inside their heads…only evidence suggests the government has worked on technology that does just that

Bill Moyers to do a special on the role of the press before the Iraq war…can’t wait to see it!

Trudeau’s brilliant new Doonesbury character: White House situational science advisor, Dr. Nathan Null!

by Jay Stevens 

I recently wrote about abuses occurring at a private behavioral modification program for at-risk teens, and called for stricter regulation of teen programs.

There were some very concerned and informative comments to that post, even from my sister who worked at a private teen program in Massachusetts for a few years.

First, the problem here is unregulated private schools, and WWASPs schools in particular, and Spring Creek Lodge, specifically. Second, there exist teen programs of all stripes, and many people who work for them or who have graduated from them swear by them. In no way am I going to pretend that I’m an expert on child psychology or behavior modification, and I don’t know the pain of parenting an at-risk teenager, so I’m not going to comment on these programs in general.

But I will say that the death and assault at Spring Creek have made it abundantly clear that teen programs need more oversight than they already have. Which is next to none. There’s currently no licensing for teen programs in Montana, which is reprehensible, given the awesome responsibility given to these programs.

Enter state Senator Trudi Schmidt’s bill, LC 1004, which creates licensure for teen programs, among other things, such as:

–mandatory background checks for program managers and workers
–program adherence to state building codes
–“surprise” inspections
–adds a physician, psychologist, and a representative from both the superintendent of public instruction and the Department of Health and Human Services to the regulating board
–expands oversight to all overnight teen programs of four or more chidren

None of these provisions seem excessive. I like the change to the board that oversees the industry; the new board ensures that industry representatives don’t start with a majority, but instead seem to give the power to the “swing voters,” the Governor-appointed citizens.

License application of a teen program requires the following information:

–description of the program
–goals and objectives
–population of the program, including max number and gender of children
–location and contact information of the school
–list of professional and supervisory personnel
–average daily number of participants
–policies and procedures on admission; behavior management; communication with family; availability of medical and psychiatric care; medication management.

The board will approve applications.

As my sister pointed out, there’s some risk to programs with cutting-edge or experimental programs. (For example, her school used peer counseling, which the Massachusetts state government did not approve of, although it was widely successful.)

While some may claim that these basic oversight powers will drag down some teen programs, consider what damage more bad news about Spring Creek and the WWASP schools could do to the entire industry. Another death or two, and you’ll have “60 Minutes” crawling all over the state, and then you’ll see what kind of regulation you’ll get.

But what do you think? Are Senator Schmidt’s proposed changes excessive? If so, what can the state do to ensure that no more abuses occur in the industry’s worst schools?

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