The Case For School Drug Testing

Larry Price
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Wednesday - April 04, 2007
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The U.S. deputy drug czar, Dr. Bertha Madras, was in town last week promoting the idea of random student drug testing in Hawaii’s public and private schools. Her perky speech reasoned that if there was random drug testing in Hawaii’s schools, it would give the youngsters a stronger reason to “just say no.”

Madras claims she has not met a student who doesn’t like the random drug testing because, “I’ve got an excuse to say no at a party and nobody thinks I’m a nerd because I don’t want to test positive.”

I thought that was a weak reason, when you consider current events on Oahu.

At least four public school teachers and one janitor in Hawaii have been arrested in recent months on drug charges. Maybe what the public should be demanding is random drug testing for all principals, teachers and staff - as well as students. The evidence seems to indicate that a demand for drugs is being satisfied by people who work on campus, not other students, although I’m sure that happens too.

I’d even go a step further. I would demand that all parents who have children in public schools must also submit to random drug tests if they expect the teachers to educate their children. If there is anything tougher than teaching a youngster with bad habits, it has to be teaching a youngster whose parents have bad habits, like a reliance on illegal drugs.

What I don’t understand is why our government officials are so timid when it comes to prescribing a program that would ensure the welfare and well-being of, as they often say, “our most valuable asset, our children.”

Our government leaders are constantly imposing programs that are “good for the public,” whether they are popular or not. After all, aren’t we going to endure the cost and inconvenience of the mixed guideway transit system “for the public good”? Aren’t we moving homeless people off the beaches because it is for “their own good and that of their families”?

It seems that a random drug testing program would also be “good for the public,” whether or not they consider it an invasion of privacy rights or other obtuse reasons which allow our public schools students to obtain and use illegal drugs.

Random student drug-testing programs typically require in-school urine testing of students who play sports, participate in extracurricular activities, park on campus or participate in volunteer programs. Approximately 450 public schools nationwide already have random student drug testing using federal assistance money, according to Madras.

Anyone who has taught or worked with youngsters can tell you how obvious and tragic it is to see a student become addicted to drugs. And make no mistake, some of these illegal drugs are not only deadly, they can become addictive in one or two hits. The road to recovery after the fact is long and difficult, and there is no guarantee of complete recovery.

In fact, one of the worst parts of being addicted to any drug is that it will follow you around the rest of your life. It’s like dropping out of high school and going through life ashamed that you weren’t dedicated enough to your family and your future to earn a high school diploma.

Hopefully, the parents of public school students will rally behind Lt. Gov. James Aiona’s plea to strongly encourage the Board of Education and Department of Education officials to start a full-fledged random drug testing program after running a few pilot programs to prove to everyone that it is the smart thing to do.

The only caveat in my mind is that there must be strict guidelines about what “random” means. There is a tendency for people to stereotype students and put them into groups. It has always bothered me in sports when officials only drug test athletes who finish in first place and never pay any mind to those who finished last.

This program is long overdue and should not be considered a negotiable issue. I find very little difference between a bus driver endangering the lives of his passengers and a teacher selling drugs to his or her students.

Most parents want the best for their children and, if it is explained to them comprehensively, are sure to embrace the idea of random drug testing in public schools.

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