White House Continues to Push Ineffective Student Drug Testing Agenda

May 6, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is conducting the latest in a series of regional summits designed to convince local educators to begin drug testing students randomly and without cause – a policy unsupported by the available science and opposed by leading experts in adolescent health, including the Academy of Pediatrics, National Education Association, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers.

“Subjecting students to unsubstantiated searches flies in the face of the values taught in our nation’s classrooms,” said ACLU Legislative Counsel Jesselyn McCurdy. “Random drug testing is not only ineffective in preventing teen drug use, it’s counter-productive. We know that the threat of random drug testing can discourage students from participating in the very activities proven to reduce drug use, such as high school sports. It marginalizes already at-risk teens and undermines trust between students and educators.”

While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that random drug testing of students involved in extracurricular activities does not violate the Constitution, many state constitutions provide stronger privacy protections, disallowing such testing schemes. For example, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found random drug testing of students unconstitutional under state law in 2003, and the Washington Supreme Court most recently declared it unconstitutional in March of this year.

In addition to exposing schools to costly litigation, studies have found that suspicionless drug testing is ineffective in deterring student drug use. The first large-scale national study on student drug testing in 2003 found no difference in rates of student drug use between schools that have drug testing programs and those that do not. In addition, the results of a two-year trial published last November in the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded random drug testing targeting student athletes did not reliably reduce past month drug use and, in fact, produced attitudinal changes among students that indicate new risk factors for future substance use.

The ACLU report, Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No, is available at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy/testing/23514pub20060112.html.

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