Monday, October 12, 2009

Student Drug Testing Hits Home - Literally

Never have I felt so bullied. Rarely have I felt so angry and helpless.

Sunday, my daughter finally handed over to me the 13 page Policy for Random Urine Drug Testing of North College Hill City School District Students. Although it's voluntary, I only have to give up my daughter's "privilege" of being in any of her school's extracurricular activities if I don't sign the "voluntary" form.

This is no small matter.

My daughter plans on majoring in musical theater, but if I don't sign, she won't be able to participate in her school's Thespian Society. She is also in marching band. Attending performances is part of her grade, so if I don't sign, she can't march at football games or sit in the stands at basketball games for Pep Band and she'll fail band. She wouldn't be able to participate in Service Leaders, her school's community service group.

She wouldn't be able to go to her Senior Prom.

Her grades are mostly B's with an A here or the odd C in Chemistry or Calculus. As I never made it to Chemistry or Calculus, I can live with that. She's a well-rounded, civic minded, church going (she goes with Grandma even when I skive off), stellar student who has taken advantage of everything her small-town school has to offer.

And for this, they reward her with the promise of random drug testing.

And she couldn't care less. What she's mad about is that I am refusing to sign over her rights. That's really the kicker in all this. She's not mad at the people who are more than willing to make her pull down her pants and pee on command for the right to be in Band, Drama and Service Leaders. No, she's angry at me for not signing.

I've talked to some other parents. And they signed. Not because they agree with the policy. But because their children, too, are angry at them for not signing under threat of not being able to participate in after school "stuff". You'd think us parents would have enough sense to band together - but everyone's too busy trying to keep a roof over these kids heads and food on the table. No one has time for a well-reasoned rant, let alone a good old-fashioned protest.

I sent her school superintendent, Gary Gellert, a very politely worded yet obviously angry email. And he called me back. The better not to have his comments on the record. He worked very hard to assure me that it's no big deal and that ends justify the means. "Yes it may step on the rights of a few students..."

Which was really all he had to say. He knows it's wrong. But he's willing to do it anyway. I wonder if the grants the federal government is giving out for schools who expand their student drug testing has anything to do with his support of this decision? I wonder how to find out if NCH Schools have recieved that money? That would explain a lot.

My mother informed me that I'll be "ruining her life and her Senior Year" if I don't sign. My daughter has made it patently clear that she couldn't care less what a civil liberty even is as long as she gets to participate in Drama. I offered to send her to Playhouse in the Park or Clifton Arts Center or anywhere...

But it's not just Drama. Unsaid but just as out there - it is unthinkable that I should allow her to miss Prom. I just couldn't be so cruel and mean. Even I have to remind myself that I'm not the bad guy here.

"But the drama program at school is free, Mama," she insisted.

And I said to her, "It's not free. There's a price."

I guess I'll sign the paper and despise myself and Gary Gellert and school board members and all the others across the country who think that drug testing our children is a good idea. It's a popular idea and catching on fast. Coming to a school district near you soon enough. It started with testing student athletes for steroids. Then steroids and banned substances (pot & coke folks). Now it's all the rage to test any kid who so much as wants to be in Chess Club. And for all you folks who are keeping score, yes there are now districts who just want to make sure all kids are eligible for random tests because, hey, why leave anyone out at this point?

The form stresses how very voluntary and non-punative this matter is. The double-speak is as amazing to me as everything else. It's not voluntary and she will be punished. Either way. And regardless of the fact that it's being shown that testing may doesn't have a real effect and just pushes kids towards substances the tests don't catch...

Eh, what's the use. I better go find a pen.



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2 comments:

  1. A couple of thoughts.
    - I never heard that the schools can get funding if they do drug testing. I think this is real news if true. This needs to be verified.
    - I am against mandatory drug testing of anyone except employees that operate heavy machinery or drive buses or trucks.
    - The use of drugs among teens is definitely declining. The whole atmosphere is better today than it was 30 yrs ago when I was in school. But the change had nothing to do with testing and a lot to do with changing attitudes of the culture as a whole. I wish I knew exactly why this changed, but I am so happy drugs are much less cool than they were when we were in school.
    -I have read stories of strong-minded teens who have fought drug testing and won. I seem to remember a case about a high school kid in Indianapolis. He was so sure of his rights and his willingness to fight for them. He is probably a successful lawyer now. But he was unusual in that he was not so concerned about going to Prom, and more concerned about his rights. This has happened a lot, but voluntary (really mandatory) testing still continues.
    - If my kid wanted to fight it, I would support them 100%. But if not, I too would sign.

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  2. It's not a matter of "if" the government is giving out grants for student drug testing. The second link in this post goes to a page that links to a PDF entitled "Grants for School-Based Drug Testing."

    The PDF is on the US Department of Education Page.

    ReplyDelete

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