Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jun 2003
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2003 The Decatur Daily
Author: Bayne Hughes


The Decatur City Board of Education is no longer students to 
stay off drugs.

The school system dropped the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program 
Tuesday night in favor of its own program, Alternative Choices Education 
System, also known as A.C.E.S.

Student resource officer Greg Cain said D.A.R.E. is not included on the 
U.S. Department of Education's list of drug and alcohol resistance 
programs, which could keep Decatur from qualifying for future federal grants.

"This is a big step for me because I've been involved for the last nine 
years as a D.A.R.E. officer and trainer," Cain said. "D.A.R.E. is a great 
program, but we believe we can find more effective programs."

According to Cain, another problem is D.A.R.E., which ironically celebrated 
its 20th anniversary in April, has not changed its curriculum since 1994. 
The program has been in Decatur's elementary schools since 1987. The system 
expanded D.A.R.E. to sixth-grade students at the middle schools in 1995 and 
sophomores at the high schools in 1996.

"They say they are rewriting the curriculum, but they keep pushing back the 
implementation of the rewrite," Cain said.

The Decatur Police Department began A.C.E.S. as a summer program to keep 
children in the city's housing authority districts involved and influence 
their lives toward clean and safe activities. Police officers wear shorts 
and golf shirts so they are not as intimidating to the children as they 
might be in full uniform.

Expanding A.C.E.S. into the school year would give the school system and 
the police department several advantages. Since the Police Department 
started the program, Decatur owns the rights and the logo.

More importantly, Superintendent Sam Houston said the school system would 
have control of the curriculum. He pointed out that the school system and 
Police Department changed their police officers in the schools from 
D.A.R.E. officers to student resource officers last year so their duties 
would include more than drug education.

"We'll be able to incorporate several research-based modules and make the 
program more balanced," Houston said.

Cain said D.A.R.E., a copyrighted program that started in the Los Angeles 
Police Department under then-Chief Darrel Gates, has a curriculum that is 
"very rigid" and does not allow inclusion of other drug resistance programs.
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