Your Turn: Should high school students face random drug tests?
Last week, we asked: The Duluth Public School District, inspired by the success of a drug testing program across the border in Superior, Wis., is considering random drug tests for students who participate in sports, clubs and other extra-curricular activities, as well as for students who drive to high school. Is this an idea that school districts in southeastern Minnesota should consider, or would it be a violation of students' rights?
Below are the comments we received:
Not the schools' job
The Duluth school district is considering mandatory random drug testing as a strategy to prevent drug use among its students. School-based drug testing remains controversial, although the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld its permissibility.
Civil libertarians argue that such testing invades the privacy of students without probable cause, while proponents point to a few successful implementations. Aspects of both of these arguments are valid.
Students should be entitled to progressive age-appropriate privacy while ensuring personal safety; and while a handful of random drug testing programs have been successful, the evidence is inconclusive.
But both sides miss the point. Public schools exist to serve the public good by giving students the education they need to prepare them for a productive adulthood and engaged civic life. Although drug use can clearly undermine those goals, so can hundreds of other factors that are beyond the reach of schools.
Public schools should focus on the academic preparation of young people in the community in a positive environment. Parents should resist the temptation to outsource drug prevention to the schools and allow schools to do what they do best — teach the young.
Alan K. Duncan
A good idea, but would it work?
I believe that because students have to sign a zero-tolerance agreement to participate in athletics, then with that should be the ability to do random testing as well.
Unfortunately, I don't believe this would have the effect that they are hoping for, as there are many drugs that wouldn't show up on a test anyway. So, you would have a chance to catch those chronically addicted children who cannot stop using (and chances are high that someone in the school already knows or suspects the use), but not those who socially use or who are careful about timing and product used.
Finally, I haven't seen — at least locally — a "drug search" that isn't announced to the world well in advanced of the search being done of a school, so how would this be different?
Send a letter to the parents of the children who are going to be tested a few days in advance? You've already defeated the purpose.
Do your job, parents
No, there should not be testing.
First, I don't want my tax dollars wasted on these expensive tests. and what percentage will really be positive? Will it be like the welfare testing this state does, when between 3 and 5 percent test positive? Maybe we should let the parents buy and administer them at home and see what their kids are up to.
Second, the school system has become a default system for parenting so parents do not to have to raise their kids themselves, and this has gone to far. You took the time to make the child. Now, stop being selfish and take the time to raise the child, too. Don't make the teachers (whose jobs are tough enough), schools and my tax dollars find out what your kids are doing. Be the bad guy — question your kids and take care of that business at home.
Travis W. Mueller