Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Who'd have thought: Some parents want to do their jobs

Alaska will be left out of a large annual study on youth drug use because researchers weren't able to obtain high enough response rates. This year's results were statistically insignificant because not enough parents provided written consent for their children to be given surveys about drug use, as required by state law.
The Alaska Department of Education did not bother publishing results from the Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey, administered last spring, because the state response to the survey was less than 60 percent.
Voters in Alaska are known for their especially strong support for citizens' privacy rights, which is embodied by the Republican state legislator who wrote the 1999 law requiring parents to sign off on survey participation.

"We don't want schools, or anyone else, intruding into the privacy of homes without their parents' permission," said state Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River.

It's simply not the government's right to know some things about children without their parents agreeing, Dyson said.

"I hold the old-fashioned view that the responsibility of raising kids lies with parents," Dyson said.

The state even spent extra money on trying to get more parents to send in the consent forms.
Pizza parties for 57 classrooms cost $5,000 to $7,000, an expense borne by the state interested in obtaining results from the state's largest school district, Kerosky said.

[snip]

Calling parents and asking them to sign forms had little effect.

"It didn't seem to make a big difference in our response rate," Stayrook said.

In light of the lackluster parental enthusiasm for the survey, you'd think Alaskans would also be reluctant to allow school officials to force their children into bathroom stalls and collect samples of their urine for the purposes of discerning drug use. That's why it's especially disappointing to see the Association of Alaska School Boards touting the ONDCP's federal grant money for drug testing in this July 2005 newsletter.

Drug testing is a huge impediment to family decision making, not to mention that it fails to reduce youth drug use. It's shameful that the federal government flushes Americans' hard-earned tax dollars down the toilet - literally - on testing teens' piss while doing nothing to actually prevent drug abuse. We know that strong open and honest relationships - particularly between teens and their families - are a crucial part of the effort to prevent drug abuse by young people. And schools stepping in and playing gotcha games with drug testing is wholly antithetical to that important aim.

Let's hope the Association of Alaska School Boards gets their act together and recognizes student drug testing for what it really is: bad for Alaskan families and contrary to the state's proud principles.

5 comments:

kaptinemo said...

As someone who received two versions of 'drug education' - an academic one from my junior high school, another from my Father about the expected results of irresponsible conduct in use of any drugs, alcohol included, would entail (Said with a growl full of the promise of earnest violence "Drive drunk and jail would be the least of your problems!") - I can say that the greatest impact came from my Marine Father's telling me the straight word on drinking and driving and illcit drug use.

That, and relating the tale of his morphine-addicted WW1 'doughboy' Father who not only lost a leg in combat but had to wean himself off of the morphine they gave him in hospital, more than anything else, decided me against any 'youthful experimentation'; I never drank alcohol and didn't touch an illicit drug until I was 31.

Face it: students in school, when they reach a certain level of awareness, know that much of what they are taugh is taught not for their benefit but for society's...and the process is anything but mutually advantageous. Students expect to be buffaloed. That's why hearing it from Mum and Da is so important.

kaptinemo said...

And as to piss-testing, well, I was in the Army when they first began regiment-wide piss-testing, and the tests were very primitive. Lots of people in the Army get sick because they move from an area where they have immunity to local diseases and become ill when exposed to new people and areas. Living in close quarters does that, as any small-office worker can attest. So there was lots of cold medicine usage being picked up as opiates and these troops wound up having to be tested and retested, again and again.

And you knew they weren't using illicits; there's damn' little privacy in a barracks and the 'bathrooms' were models of stark utility with no stall doors. So thousands and thousands of dollars were being wasted...and lots of normally very supportive and patriotic troops grumbling about it all. Needless to say, morale suffers from that kind of treatment...as does trust.

A lesson these purblind fools pushing this testing crap - and shamelessly using a politically vulnerable population to achieve that pocket lining - will someday learn to their sorrow. What comes around does indeed go around, the worm does turn, and the biter does get bit; today's piss-testing victim may become tomorrow's medical insurance worker in a possible future that contains rationed health care. Someone who has a long memory of the humiliation he or she endured courtesy of the now frail and ill adult asking for help who caused that humiliation. I would not want to be in that person's shoes...

800 pound gorilla said...

Nonsense about the "experimentation with drugs". We constantly experiment. Every time we try a new medication we are experimenting. Doctors recommend new medications all the time. They encourage their patients to experiment. The big difference is that doctors give warnings about possible bad effects and what to expect. They also warn the patients that the new drug may not work and ask that you notify them of any problems. You don't get that from your street drug dealer.

Our VP, Dick Cheney is a living example of what can happen when you become drug dependent. He suffers from a severe drug dependency for his heart problems. The drugs he takes cause other problems [can you say drug abuse?]. One of those other problems is severe pain. He is now drug dependent for the pain and one of those drugs cause fluid retention problems resulting in difficulties in breathing. Yes, Cheney was hospitalized again for drug abuse. The article about this visit stressed that Cheney wasn't using narcotics [can you say stigmatized drug?]. I'm not a medical expert, but the medical experts that have published about painkillers tell me that most people suffering from severe pain would be better off using narcotics. Other nonnarcotic painkillers cause other unrelated health problems and their chronic use has undoubtedly contributed to Mr. Cheney's chronic health problems unrelated to his heart troubles.

Cheney should address a few questions. Should he use narcotics for the benefit to his health? Should people suffering from severe pain that is better treated by narcotics like morphine and heroin be stigmatized by the dangerous drugs mythology? Should doctors who liberally prescribe these more efficient medications - to avoid the nasty complications of other medications - be harassed by the DEA for looking after their patients' well being? Should someone suffering such severe chronic health problems even be working full time in such a stressful position as VP of the USA?

These are lessons that should be discussed in school drug education. Most people who suffer from drug addictions to "dangerous drugs" can stop using those drugs without serious health repurcussions. Cheney can not go cold turkey without serious risks. Unlike 95% of illegal drug addicts, Cheney has a severe multiple drug dependency problem. For every addict to "dangerous drugs" there are at least three people like Cheney. Why do our schools refuse to teach kids about the Cheney's of the world? You can't do much to help Dick Cheney - but you can start teaching teens how to use drugs responsibly in a healthy regimen. But that curriculum would seriously undermine support for the War on Drugs. I guarantee that!

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