Pubdate: Tue, 16 Mar 2004
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Dave Orrick, Daily Herald Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


Amid mixed reaction in the suburbs to the Bush administration's
support of mandatory drug testing for students, a gang of hand-picked
experts and supporters today are gathering in Schaumburg with hopes of
persuading more schools to consider the option.

Two Lake County school districts have adopted variations of the
program, but others in the suburbs have scorned it as a heavy-handed
tactic that doesn't focus on prevention.

The White House's message today: It's not to punish, it's to prevent -
through deterrence.

"One of our themes is 'deter and refer,'ae" said Dr. Andrea Barthwell,
deputy director for demand reduction for the Office of National Drug
Control Policy.

She said that under the administration's proposal, only the parents,
principal and appropriate counselors would be told when a student
fails a drug test.

"Then there's an intervention, and we seek help for the student," she

Barthwell's remarks came at a media briefing Monday in advance of
today's event, described as a "summit" on student drug testing.

A spokesman acknowledged that the timing of the event - on Election
Day when many school leaders will spend the day focusing on school
ballot issues - is less than ideal.

Technically, Barthwell said, the White House isn't pushing anything on
local schools.

"We want schools to know about this tool, and we want people to be
aware of how useful it can be," she said.

And they want school officials to know there's a pot of more than $20
million in grants to pay for such programs contained in President
Bush's proposed 2005 budget.

Bush announced the initiative in January during his State of the Union

Although civil liberties groups oppose mandatory testing, the idea got
a shot in the arm in 2002, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the
constitutionality of a program that tested students in extracurricular

Since then, high-schoolers involved in extracurricular activities in
Antioch and Zion have been subject to testing. Antioch leaders say
it's been a success.

But other school leaders, from Naperville Central to Northwest
Suburban District 214, have just said no to testing in the past. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake