Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mean, lean, DARE Machine ineffective?

From sunny South Carolina (shoutouts to my homies in SC, you know who you are) comes this touching story about the local DARE program. Touching, except something's amiss. Let's read:

Bamberg County Deputy Adrienne Blume scoffs at criticism that a 24-year-old drug abuse prevention program doesn’t produce effective results.

She has put too much time and effort – 17 years, to be exact – into teaching the smallest kindergarten students to the biggest fifth graders about the dangers of inhaling household products, smoking marijuana and, most recently, bullying.

Yes, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program has come under fire for a so-called flowery approach to drug prevention, lecturing kids without adhering to a research-based curriculum characteristic of stronger, evidence-based programs that produce real results.
Alas! For these so-called reasons, funding to the DARE program has been cut. This is preposterous, or something. Clearly, because a program is 24 years old, it must be effective. You don't mean to tell me that it's been a stupid waste of resources for a whole 24 years, do you? Deputy Blume can think of at least some successes she's had, and doesn't seem to care whether they're statistically significant. That's the spirit! So what is the key to the DARE program's marginal success?

Kids are also engaged in essay competitions and also develop skits which are also included in a competition. [Whoa, and I thought I overused the word "also."] Skits range from students depicting the use of the “cold-shoulder” technique when approached by friends with illegal drugs to more elaborate presentations such as the use of a D.A.R.E. Machine.

Ooh, the D.A.R.E. Machine. Go on...

“There were a couple of people pretending to be gang members. They were rude and had [no] respect for anybody, including themselves. They then went into the D.A.R.E. Machine and were respectful, trustworthy when they came out,” said Blume.

Whoa! That is one crazy-awesome machine! It simply works by inserting an input subject, and the output is a considerably nicer subject. Why hasn't this thing been patented? When will it be mass-produced and on the shelves of a new and improved, suddenly benevolent Wal-Mart? Can we install one in every room of the White House?

It doesn't work, folks. Just say, "Oh, okay, let's try something else."

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