Wellness centers are just one more device by which school administrators and the rest of Palo Alto adults convince themselves that they are helping suffering kids when in fact they are doing nothing.
These centers are like giving gas masks to children who are in toxic environments, rather than simply flushing out the gasses that are making the kids sick.
Our high schools are like old-time sweatshops. They spew overcrowded classes, wrenching students from contact with those they may love (their teachers).
They offer students and teachers no timely, confidential, user-friendly way to communicate about homework loads, and they offer families no way to understand the damage wreaked by oversubscription to Advance Placement classes—loss of sleep, loss of family time, loss of free time, loss of spiritual time, loss of friendship time.
Our high schools still put up with students' all-day access to cellphones, which more and more studies are showing to be harmful to kids' mental health (and which they manage to use in the classroom).
Gunn High School mandates far more course grades per year than previously, allowing no respite for a romantic breakup, loss of a grandparent or online humiliation.
Finally, our high schools are toxic generators of cheating, creating tremendous anxiety among our very competitive kids.
Mental health centers? They are fingers in the dike, tiny cracks for ventilation in the encompassing sweatshop. They are chances for the grown-ups to boast, "Look at all we are doing!"
We had mental health centers and still suffered student suicides in 2017 and 2020. Students overloaded with homework, AP classes and phone use don't really have the time or the desire to use these wellness centers.
Not until the grown-ups look at what kids actually need can we undo their daily grind and give them hope.
Leland Avenue, Palo Alto
This story contains 310 words.
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