Pubdate: Tue, 02 Jul 2002
Source: Nevada Appeal (NV)
Contact:  2002 Nevada Appeal
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


The U.S. Supreme Court went 1-and-1 in big rulings last week, getting a
decision on school vouchers right but falling short when it comes to
drug-testing schoolchildren.

In the landmark Cleveland vouchers case, the court reasoned correctly that
parents have the right to choose where their children get educated with
public money.

The decision is being seen as another brick removed from the wall between
church and state, because many -- 95 percent, in some estimates -- of the
vouchers will be used to send students to religion-affiliated private

With that statistic in hand, Justice John Paul Stevens said parents do not
have a "free and genuine choice" in where to send their children -- as if
requiring them to pay taxes to fund a public education system they do not
trust is an expression of free choice.

Instead, the Supreme Court gave families a real and practical choice. The
long-term effect of vouchers on the public-school system has yet to be seen.
They could strengthen public schools; they could ruin them. But the legal
logic was sound.

That can't be said for drug-testing for students who want to participate in
extra-curricular activities.

The ruling creates an overly broad violation of students' right of privacy
and, as one law professor said, asks them to "shed their Fourth Amendment
rights at the schoolhouse gate."

We recognize the need to combat drugs among the youth of society, but not at
the expense of assuming they are guilty until they can prove themselves

Worse, we think the ruling will actually discourage many students -- the
very ones who need them most -- from participating in extracurricular

When we talk of the number of young people who find themselves at personal
crossroads during their high-school days, wouldn't we prefer those who have
experimented with drugs or fallen into occasional use be given a chance to
find an alternative, positive activity? Under a drug-testing program, they
would be barred.

And what about the students, like the "goody two-shoes" Lindsay Earls who
challenged Oklahoma's drug-testing program, who would never touch drugs?
Isn't this simply a slap in the face to them?

The Supreme Court may say it's legal, but that doesn't mean schools have to
do it.

In the long run, this may be the more important of the court's two
decisions. Unfortunately, it's the one justices got wrong.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk