The Advantages Of Drug Testing

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - May 09, 2007

The leader of the Hawaii State Teachers Association maintains that mandatory random drug testing of his constituents is a violation of their constitutional rights and an invasion of their privacy. It would be refreshing if HSTA boss Roger Takabayashi would shake off the insulation of his executive position and not only advocate his membership, but consider the sentiments of the people who send their kids to public schools as well.

It is understandable to expect a teaching work force to be clean and sober since teachers are charged with the direct care and education of children. The comments by Takabayashi in regard to the mandatory drug testing provision of the new contract offered by the state reveals an attitude of disdain for those who have a difference of opinion.

So what is the problem with mandatory drug testing?

I have been told there are those who do not want to suffer the indignity of urinating into a cup. I understand there are those who would actually quit their jobs before submitting to a basic urine test.

Oh, would you please grow up. Then there are those HSTA members who simply say, “If I have to be randomly drug tested, then everybody else should be, too.” Yes, a scorched earth policy usually is the best. Let’s continue to contain this discussion precisely on the point of debate - random drug testing for teachers, and teachers only. We can get into other points of contention at another time.

The reality is this would not be an issue if some of the HSTA’s own weren’t actually out doing drugs and getting caught. If you are peeved about mandatory drug testing, you should not blame Gov. Linda Lingle, the state Legislature, Don Imus or fluoridated water. HSTA members should look at their colleagues who were stupid enough to not only do drugs as teachers, but to get caught in the act. The ire of all teachers who are cringing at the prospect of a urine test should focus their attention and frustration squarely upon those abusers.

I have received feedback from teachers who are welcoming random drug testing. These common-sense professionals should be lauded, not marginalized by union leadership. When HSTA chief Takabayashi took to the air-waves recently and proclaimed there was not one teacher who expressed support for this program, his statement was incredulous and defies logic.

The benefits of mandatory drug testing clearly negate the contrived argument of constitutional violation and privacy invasion. Teachers who test positive will be identified, and assistance to overcome their drug abuse will be available. While they are receiving treatment, they will be removed from the classroom. Their fellow teachers will rest assured those who are known to use will now stop or be removed from their ranks, creating a more positive environment. The Department of Education, the teachers and, yes, the HSTA’s reputation will get some much needed polish as the public acknowledges their efforts to address a troubling issue. Finally, students will be ensured a clear, competent and non-drug-addled teacher will be leading their class.

As of this writing, the confirmation vote on the HSTA/state contract is under way. I anticipate the acceptance of this contract will be overwhelming. I trust the vast number of diligent, committed professionals who accept the tremendous responsibility of educating the children of this community. I believe a majority of teachers do not view the random drug testing provision as being a personal assault on their rights, but rather a great opportunity to improve the general climate of education for themselves, parents and the students about whom they care the most.

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