Pubdate: Thu, 03 Jul 2008
Source: Messenger-Press, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Packet Publications
Author: Walter Helfrecht


To the editor:

The recent discussion that has been going on in the community
regarding the school district's interest in instituting a random drug
testing policy raises questions in my mind.

The policy appears to be aimed at those students who wish to engage in
extracurricular activities. What case can the Board of Education make
for random drug testing of students who will be in full view of
faculty and staff during those times when the extracurricular
activities are occurring? Is there not already disciplinary policy
that governs inappropriate behavior while those extracurricular events
are in session?

What rational person is going to believe that some students who are
not engaged in extracurricular activities will not be doing illicit
things involving drugs while at their homes or in other places where
they may congregate? These students will not necessarily be identified
as potential problems simply because of the limitation of the testing
to those in extracurricular participation.

How even-handed is a random drug policy if it aims only at students?
To be equal, the random drug testing ought to be instituted from the
superintendent on down to the janitor. What is good for the goose
should also be good for the gander.

In the instance of performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic
steroids that an athlete might use, there are several telltale signs
of their use. Inordinately fast weight gains, puffy and bloated muscle
tissue and personality changes are all outward signs of anabolic
steroid use. These and others are all well-documented in athletic
circles and sports medicine. Why test if the proof stares you in the

Has anyone considered the ramifications of a "false POSITIVE" test?
Who pays the litigation costs to make that error right? The local
taxpayer does, that's who! That's my tax money that would otherwise
have been better spent to educate the children - which is what the
public school's primary mission is.

The Constitution of the United States, as well as the Constitution of
the State of New Jersey, was founded on the principles of "Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." If an individual abuses his
liberty, then let him and him alone answer for his transgression. It
is the parents' and legal system's job to be involved in that.

Random drug testing aimed solely at students - more specifically,
students who are wishing to participate in extra-curricular activities
- - without the same expectation of testing of their uninvolved peers,
guiding mentors, and others at higher levels of authority, really
calls into question the constitutionality, validity, and community
"buy-in" for such testing.

Let us be the community, state and country that we so passionately
yearn for; the least amount of intrusion into our personal lives; the
even-handed action of the law and justice system; the right to be our
own person and live our own life, even if that means some will act the
fool. Truth will shine through, no matter what veil is placed in front
of it.

I believe that there is sufficient policy to deal with inappropriate
behavior regardless of what prompts it to surface. I believe that the
parents are the ones who should be vigilant and responsible for their
own children's safety and health. I believe that the school's job is
to teach children the tools they need to make it through this life and
not be so overly concerned with social engineering and onerous
oversight of everyday personal matters unless those matters are
brought to the school's attention by the student himself.

While this admonition may come a bit late - the Board of Education
having approved the random drug testing policy at its June 18 meeting
- - there's still time to do a thorough "reality check" before wasting
any more time and effort on this nonsense.


Upper Freehold
- ---
MAP posted-by: Steve Heath