Pubdate: Wed, 28 Apr 2004
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Lisa Smith
Bookmark: (D.A.R.E.)


Two anti-drug programs under consideration to replace DARE in the St. 
Charles school district this fall feature research-based approaches that 
focus on character building and interpersonal skills.

A group of health and physical education teachers in the district is 
evaluating both the Too Good For Drugs and the LifeSkills Training programs.

One of the two programs is expected to be implemented on a pilot basis to 
fifth-graders at a few of the elementary schools within the St. Charles 
city limits this fall. The remaining schools would continue using the Drug 
Abuse Resistance Education program.

"I think we felt they were a good fit for the district," said school board 
member Kathy Hewell, who, with a parent, teachers and principals, spent 
several weeks researching DARE alternatives. "They had really detailed 
lesson plans that seemed to fit with the fifth-grade mentality."

Naperville Unit District 203 might start Too Good For Drugs this fall in 
each of its 14 elementary schools. District officials are seeking funding 
for the program from the city of Naperville, which provided DARE - along 
with police officers to teach the program - at no cost to the school 
district, said Sandy Stelmach, student assistance coordinator.

If the funding is approved, Naperville officers and fifth-grade teachers 
would teach the Too Good For Drugs program, Stelmach said.

Too Good For Drugs was developed with a group of teachers from the Tampa, 
Fla., area in 1978 and now is used in 2,500 U.S. school districts at all 
grade levels, said Susan Chase, the program's training director.

"It's heavily life-skills based," Chase said of the program. "Research has 
shown that what's effective is teaching kids how to resist peer pressure, 
how to set goals so alcohol and drugs don't get in the way of reaching 
their goals."

An independent 2003 study funded by the Florida Department of Education 
called the program "effective for students regardless of gender, 
socioeconomic status and ethnic background."

LifeSkills Training, developed by a medical professor at Cornell 
University, is used in about 3,000 middle and junior high school classrooms 
nationwide, including the Chicago Public Schools.

More than a dozen studies over the past 20 years have shown the program's 
effectiveness in reducing drug use, according to the program's Web site.

DARE has come under sharp criticism in the past decade, with several 
university studies and an analysis by the federal General Accounting Office 
concluding the program had no significant long-term effect on preventing 
young people from using drugs.

But DARE has supporters, including Kane County Sheriff Ken Ramsey who says 
it is effective.

The county funds DARE at six schools in unincorporated areas, including 
some in the St. Charles district.

The city of St. Charles contributes $50,000 annually to schools within the 
city. The municipalities of South Elgin and West Chicago fund DARE at the 
district elementary schools within their borders.

The school district spent $50,000 to fund the program for the current 
school year with the intent of evaluating options for the 2004 05 school year.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom