Thursday, December 01, 2005

The idiot test

School officials in New Jersey are celebrating because they think their random student drug testing program is working.
The schools completed their second round of random drug testing Tuesday...None tested positive for use of drugs or alcohol.
The school subjects all students who participate in extracurricular activities to random urine and saliva testing.
"If you expect us to bring back a lot of positives you don't understand how the program works," [testing czar John] Graf said. "The biggest thing this policy does is deter kids from doing drugs."
Actually, all these policies do is deter at-risk kids from joining afterschool activities.

Ask yourself: what kid who smokes marijuana every now and then is going to sign up for the chess club or debate team knowing that they'll be forced to submit a dirty urine sample? Drug testing is just an idiot test.

According to the largest-ever study on the topic, school-based drug testing fails to reduce drug use by young people.

School officials are putting students at greater risk by pushing them toward the streets between the end of the school day and the time their parents come home from work. If educators are really concerned with keeping young people safe, they should be welcoming students into positive afterschool learning environments, which have been proven to reduce youth drug use.

And the testing is expensive, too.
The district received a $120,000 federal grant to run the program for three years.
Student drug testing does nothing to deter young people from doing drugs. All it does is invade their privacy, put them at greater risk, and flush taxpayers' money down the toilet - literally.


Dan Goldman said...

New Jersey is known for many things and not all of them are as cool as The Sopranos.

According to an article in The Record, high school administrators across NJ are gearing up to test students for steroids, just like they do in the Big Leagues!

I don't think steroids have any place in competitive athletics at any level. But smart and savy students who insist on using them will find ways to reap the benefits of steroid use while avoiding detection.

Education based on the science behind steroids and an emphasis on the importance of honesty in competition, in school and especially in sports, is the only way high schools can truly hope to curtail steroid use among students.

Personally, I think the number of steroid users in any given high school is probably a small subset of the total participating in high school sports. For the price of testing everyone, a smart school district could focus its resources on the students most likely to misuse or abuse steroids.

This approach has the added benefit of leaving the constitutional rights of everyone in tact, while caring for the small minority of those who may in fact develop a problem with steroids or any other substance.

Ross Wilson said...

I believe SSDP first heard drug testing referred to as an "idiot test" by a gentleman who was a medical doctor, medical review officer (for drug tests) and school board member in Oregon.

The school district later unceremoniously shelved its proposed drug testing program.

Micah Daigle said...

Another reason these students may be testing negative for drug use is that they've simply moved on to harder drugs that are less easy to detect than marijuana (such as alcohol, amphetamines, or inhalents).

Traces of marijuana are found in urine for several days or even weeks after use, while evidence of alcohol and cocaine disappear after a day or two. I've known several people who have said that being drug tested did nothing but deter them from using marijuana and gave them more incentive to subvert the system by using other drugs.