Pubdate: Fri, 06 May 2005
Source: Beaver County Times, The (PA)
Copyright: 2005 Beaver County Times
Author: Patrick O'Shea
Cited: Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Bookmark: (Students - United States)
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


MOON TWP. - Mary Ann Solberg, deputy director of the White House's
Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Thursday she is convinced
that random drug testing of all students in public high schools would
lead to fewer drug-addicted teens.

But opponents questioned the cost, privacy issues and whether random
drug testing is effective.

During a visit to a forum at a Moon Township hotel to promote the
president's request for $25.4 million in grant money this year for
school drug-testing programs, Solberg said she initially was skeptical
of the idea, thinking of whether she would want her own daughter

But Solberg said she became convinced of the need for random drug
testing in schools after visiting districts in Texas and Louisiana
that are trying to keep drug problems from overwhelming their classrooms.

Solberg said students and school officials she has spoken with have
overwhelmingly supported the idea because they say they would feel
safer and would be able to get more accomplished academically.

To make the program work, Solberg said participating districts need to
have comprehensive prevention programs in place, keep the results of
tests confidential from the public and promise students would not face
punishment for testing positive for drug use. Instead, the focus
should be on treatment, she said.

Tom Angell, spokesman for Students for Sensible Drug Policy, which has
chapters throughout the country, said drugs are a serious problem but
random drug testing is not the solution.

His group had three representatives standing outside the Moon forum.
They handed out pamphlets, but were not protesting.

Angell said a recent National Institute on Drug Abuse study conducted
through the University of Michigan found no differences in drug use by
students in schools with random drug testing than with students in
other schools. Solberg countered that the study was flawed.

Angell said his organization is concerned that random drug testing
only impairs the trust between students and teachers. The group also
is worried that students might switch from marijuana, which is easily
detectable, to harder drugs that do not stay in their systems as long.

Solberg said students will have to go through random drug tests in the
military and the workplace, so testing in schools would only prepare
them for the future. And it would give students an excuse to avoid the
peer pressure of using drugs if they could argue a positive test could
impair their scholarship chances because district officials would know
the results, she said.

Angell argued that the money school districts would have to raise for
drug testing could be better used on after-school programs and other
prevention and treatment activities.

Solberg responded that the money for testing would be well spent. She
said the cost for setting up treatment programs for those who test
positive would be no more than buying helmets for football teams.

"We're talking about the health of our children," Solberg

Solberg had no figures on how many school districts in the nation
already are doing random drug testing of students. Officials said
Seneca Valley is the only school district in this area to conduct
random testing. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake