Press Release  | 01/22/2007

White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda at Summit in Charleston on January 24th

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South Carolina Communities Have Not Embraced Policy; Educators, Experts and Others Available for Interview

Charleston, SC -- The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of regional summits designed to convince local educators to implement across-the-board random, suspicionless student drug testing. This policy is unsupported by the available science and opposed by leading experts in adolescent health. The first summit of 2007 takes place on Wednesday, January 24th in Charleston at the Embassy Suites Hotel Airport/Convention Center, 5055 International Blvd at 8:30 a.m. Additional summits will be held later this year in Newark, NJ (February 27) and Honolulu, HI (March 27) and Las Vegas, NV (April 24).

Although the ONDCP has toured the country for the last three years promoting student drug testing, the largest study on the effectiveness of such testing, conducted by respected federally-funded researchers in 2003, found no difference in drug use among 94,000 students who were tested and those who were not.

Selected regional educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the Charleston summit, where the ONDCP will continue to describe student drug testing as a "silver bullet" to prevent adolescent drug use. A group of concerned citizens will also attend to provide educators with important information missing from the summit, such as the objection of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers to testing. These professionals believe random testing breaks down relationships of trust between students and adults and contributes to a hostile school environment.

"Educators who are making important decisions about student safety should know random drug testing can undermine the very protective factors that have been shown to help keep young people out of trouble with drugs," said Jennifer Kern, research associate at the Drug Policy Alliance, and coordinator of their Drug Testing Fails Our Youth public education campaign. "The surveillance programs may in fact deter young people from participating in the very extracurricular activities that keep students supervised and connected during the peak drug taking hours between 3-6pm."

South Carolina communities have not embraced random student drug testing despite the ONDCP's persistent efforts to spread the programs since 2004. Dutch Fork High School at Irmo, near Columbia, one of the few schools to test, abandoned their program because it was too costly.

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 resources for educators who are interested in addressing drug abuse among young people.

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at http://www.drugtestingfails.org. Excerpts from the booklet 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.


Tony Newman at (646) 335- 5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

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