High School Drug Testing
Columnist Katherine Peterson of The Daily Iowan once wrote of high school drug testing, "The truth is that such testing does not result in drug-free schools but only produces a population of humiliated, angry, and fearful students." Although quite an inflammatory issue, the fact of the matter is that the nation would love to see drugs, alcohol and tobacco eradicated from high schools everywhere. But by what means?
The rationale behind testing
Supporters claim that it removes the temptation of drugs from students. But those against testing say it is too expensive and only encourages students to seek out more dangerous, undetectable activity.
"It is critical to deter drug use during school years because kids on dope can't learn," states the Drug Free America Foundation. "If kids can't learn, how will they succeed in life?"
The Drug Policy Alliance says, "T he experts agree, and the evidence is clear! Random drug testing does not reduce drug use among young people. Spending an extra 23 million on testing students' urine will only destroy relationships between youth and adults."
Many thought a Zero Tolerance policy was the answer. The National Mental Health and Education Center defines Zero Tolerance as "consistently enforced suspension and expulsion policies in response to weapons, drugs and violent acts in the school setting.
"Over time, however, zero tolerance has come to refer to school or district-wide policies that mandate predetermined typically harsh consequences or punishments (such as suspension and expulsion) for a wide degree of rule violation."
School officials and teachers have found success in Zero Tolerance because it removes the troubled student from class immediately. However, there are doubts about how effective it is in the long run.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Safe and Responsive Schools says that at least 75 percent of schools have a Zero Tolerance policy for serious offenses.
- 94 percent for the presence of firearms
- 91 percent for other weapons
- 87 percent take on alcohol
- 88 percent on drugs
- 79 percent on violence and tobacco
Long term consequences
But high school drug testing involves more than just the ethics behind testing. What happens with scholarships? With college costs soaring in the U.S. , and scholarship competition growing every year, some believe the matter may be solved with a simple urine test. For example, Odessa College in Odessa , TX , mandates drug testing for its Becker Educators Endowment.