Pubdate: Wed, 28 Jul 2004
Source: North County Times (CA)
Copyright: 2004 North County Times
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Dragging children out of classrooms on a random basis to collect urine
samples from them is not a smart way to try to improve education in
California. Nor does it seem necessary that the Legislature should
spend any time debating a bill about such a thing.

But Senate Bill 1386, by state Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara,
would prohibit California's public schools from randomly testing
students for drugs. The bill "specifies that drug or alcohol testing
of pupils by a school district is permitted only upon a reasonable
suspicion of the unlawful use of a controlled substance, or alcohol,
by a pupil."

Vasconcellos said he introduced the bill because the Bush
administration is trying to "bribe" public schools with $25 million in
federal funds to promote such drug-testing.

Now Assemblyman Mark Wyland, R-Escondido, has jumped into the fray.
Wyland says Sacramento has no business telling local school districts
what they can and cannot do to fight drug abuse. He wants
Vasconcellos' bill killed.

If ever both sides were wrong on an issue, this is it. Wyland is
saying, in effect, that it's wrong for Sacramento to prevent this
intrusive procedure, but it's OK for Washington to spend 25 million
taxpayer dollars to promote it. As a self-proclaimed conservative,
Wyland should know better.

Still, it seems unnecessary for Vasconcellos to micromanage school
policy. We can imagine a high school with a history of drug use on a
certain varsity sports team, for example. Random drug testing of
athletes on that team might be useful. Then again, it may not, but
that's not for Vasconcellos to decide. It's a question for the local
school board.

It's pathetic that Wyland, Vasconcellos and the president are wasting
their time and ours on this in a day of crashing budgets, with tens of
thousands of schoolchildren crammed into temporary classrooms, many of
which lack textbooks and even decent wiring and plumbing.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin