Pubdate: Fri, May 21 1999
Source: Albany Democrat-Herald (OR)
Copyright: 1999 Lee Enterprises
Contact:  600 Lyon St., SW, Albany, OR 97321 
Author: Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald


Public support of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, DARE,
convinced the Albany School District to reverse its recommendation on
funding it next year.

DARE is a 17-week program taught by uniformed police officers to
fifth-graders at 11 of Albany's 14 elementary schools. Two of the
other schools, Clover Ridge and Tangent, are outside the city limits
and receive DARE from the Linn County Sheriff's Office. The 14th
school, Lafayette, prefers to use its own program.

Superintendent Tim Carman's original budget recommendation did not
include the $10,000 the district had been paying to subsidize DARE.

Carman said at the time he planned to talk with the Albany Police
Department about some type of drug and alcohol resistance program, but
he was concerned DARE might not be the most effective one to have. He
also said he was concerned about the time it takes away from other

After meetings with elementary principals, two meetings with the
police department and 14 letters from parents, the district reversed
its decision. The $10,000 for DARE is now part of the second funding
priority on a list of 28 priorities for next year's budget.

"We heard from lots of people that the program provides a significant
benefit for elementary school children," said Bill Dixon, spokesman
for the district. "Parents, teachers, principals and police officers
all backed the program. ... Based on the guidance we received from our
community, we concluded the program was more than worthwhile."

Dixon said the district's original concern came from national research
that seems to indicate DARE is not effective in keeping kids from
using drugs.

Albany schools will work with the police and representatives of the
schools to design an evaluation process of its effectiveness locally,
Dixon said. He does not yet have information on what kind of process,
how soon it might be in place or whether it would track students over

Lynn Dunn, a fifth-grade teacher at Periwinkle Elementary, said he
presented the district with the parent letters of support and told
Carman that teachers make DARE a part of their work toward achieving
state standards.

Students have to make a speech and write an essay as part of the DARE
program, which are both part of state requirements, he said. Just as
important is the message his fifth-graders receive about making good

"Fifth-graders are thinking of middle school all year long and
thinking about the situations that crop up in middle school; peer
pressure, the possibility of making bad choices," Dunn said. "DARE
goes through several different ways and techniques to say no so
they're not walking away with a bad feeling or humiliation."

When his students move on, he said, "They feel very proud about what
they've done and what they've accomplished. They can carry that pride
through middle school. That pride in knowing where they came from can
help relieve that feeling of intimidation."

Having a uniformed officer in the classroom once a week allows
students to get to know police in a friendly way that will carry over
through the years, Dunn believes.

Dunn has taught at Periwinkle for all eight years that DARE has been
part of the district. Offhand he could think of only one student
during those years who did later develop a problem with drug use.

However, he said, it's important to remember that DARE is not just
about drugs. It also deals with stress, peer pressure, avoiding gangs
and potential violence, and developing a good self-image.

"It's about the whole child and building a self image that will help
them later on in life," he said.
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