White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda At Summit in Falls Church, VA on March 15
Falls Church, VA - The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of summits promoting random student drug testing, a policy unsupported by the available science and opposed by prominent adolescent health groups. The third one-day summit takes place on Wednesday, March 15th in Falls Church, VA at the Fairview Park Marriott at 8:30 a.m. The final summit will follow in Milwaukee, WI (April 25). The first and second summits were held in Orlando (January 19) and San Diego (February 22).
Although the Bush administration has been busy promoting student drug testing for the last three years, the largest ever study on the effectiveness of such testing found no difference in drug use among students who were tested and those who were not. The federally funded study and follow up study was released in 2003 and included 94,000 students from across the country.
Regional educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the Falls Church summit, where the drug czar's office will continue to describe student drug testing as a "silver bullet" to prevent adolescent drug use. Summit participants will be misled about the reliability and the accuracy of student drug testing, and will not be warned that student drug testing may in fact deter young people from participating in the very extracurricular activities that have proven to decrease drug use.
"Drug testing is humiliating, costly and ineffective, but it's an easy anti-drug sound-bite for the White House," said Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, a mother of four and the director of the Drug Policy Alliance's Teens and Drugs project. "The people and educators across the country who make serious decisions about young people's safety won't find the information they need at these propaganda-filled summits. They need the actual research, not slogans and junk science."
Communities throughout Virginia are rejecting the policy of random student drug testing. School districts in Northern Virginia expressed resistance to student drug testing after the state released guidelines for the programs. Roanoke County, Mathews County and most recently Williamsburg-James City County scaled back or abandoned their mandatory student drug testing proposals after fierce community opposition.
"It's not appropriate to have my son urinate on demand in order to go to school. It is every parent's nightmare that a child's adolescent mistake appears on his or her record years later, during a job interview," said Keven Zeese, an attorney whose son attends public school in neighboring Arlington County. "For this and many other reasons, I adamantly oppose and fight random student drug testing in my son's school."
Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No (2006), a 25-page booklet published by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU, provides the latest scientific research on student drug testing. The booklet covers the legal implications associated with student drug testing, analyzes the costs of implementing such policies, and provides further resources for educators interested in addressing drug abuse among young people. Over 35,000 school officials, parents and concerned citizens across the country received the first edition of the booklet.
Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at: www.drugtestingfails.org and excerpts are included below:
Comprehensive, rigorous and respected research shows there are many reasons why random student drug testing is not good policy:
Drug testing is not effective in deterring drug use among young people;
Drug testing is expensive, taking away scarce dollars from other, more effective programs that keep young people out of trouble with drugs;
Drug testing can be legally risky, exposing schools to potentially costly litigation;
Drug testing may drive students away from extracurricular activities, which are a proven means of helping students stay out of trouble with drugs;
Drug testing can undermine trust between students and teachers, and between parents and children;
Drug testing can result in false positives, leading to the punishment of innocent students;
Drug testing does not effectively identify students who have serious problems with drugs; and
Drug testing may lead to unintended consequences, such as students using drugs (like alcohol) that are more dangerous but less detectable by a drug test.
There are alternatives to drug testing that emphasize education, discussion, counseling and extracurricular activities, and that build trust between students and adults.
Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at www.drugtestingfails.org.