One in Seven School Districts Tests Students for Drugs

According to a survey reported in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, 14 percent of public school districts randomly tested students for drugs during the 2004-05 year. These were districts where at least one high school had a testing program. Almost all of those districts were testing student athletes, 65 percent were testing students enrolled in extracurricular activities, and 28 percent were testing all students. The first two policies have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not yet addressed universal testing of public school students. Since this is the first survey of its kind, it's not clear how those decisions have affected the prevalence of drug testing. Future surveys may indicate whether the Bush administration's campaign for student drug testing, which includes federal subsidies, has had a significant impact.

The researchers note that "many of these districts may be conducting such testing beyond current Supreme Court sanctions" and therefore "may be placing themselves in a legally vulnerable position." Then again, they say, "districts that subject all students to random drug testing would appear to eliminate the risk that those who use illicit substances may simply decline to participate in extracurricular activities to avoid testing."

Previous reason coverage of student drug testing here

[via NORML]

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  • fyodor||

    All your pee is belong to us.

  • Neil||

    Someone set us up the bong.

  • ||

    "Almost all of those districts were testing student athletes, 65 percent were testing students enrolled in extracurricular activities, and 28 percent were testing all students."

    It seems to me that according to the "standard libertarian line" there should be no problem with the schools testing the athletes and the extracurriculars, since no student is forced to try out for and thus undergo the testing (they could always quit the activty and quit the school and go to a private school that does not test). But the latter situation would be wrong since there are compulsory schooling laws and many people cannot afford a private school. Is that right?

    I think they are all wrong, since they restrict either privacy (having to submit to the test) or liberty (having to quit something you like) for a large amount of people (those who choose for whatever reason to go to a public school).

  • ||

    I think a real issue I've always had with libertarianism is that liberty is only impaired when someone is physically coerced to do x. I think a lot of times a person can be placed in a situation where he can only do x if he submits to y, and y being something negative for his other rights and interests, then that guy's "liberty" has been constrained in a very real way. Put in other words, I don't think the non-aggression principle exhausts the possible negative restraints on liberty.

  • ||

    A lot of situations libertarians will say "well, that's not coercion because you could have always quit the job/went to another school/purchased from another/etc." But you could always "take an ass beating" or "get shot" rather than comply to threats of physical force. I submit that in both cases you choose between what can be very real harms, and both situations may present no "real choice" at all.

  • Elemenope||

    I think a real issue I've always had with libertarianism is that liberty is only impaired when someone is physically coerced to do x. I think a lot of times a person can be placed in a situation where he can only do x if he submits to y, and y being something negative for his other rights and interests, then that guy's "liberty" has been constrained in a very real way. Put in other words, I don't think the non-aggression principle exhausts the possible negative restraints on liberty.

    Agreed. That's mostly why I don't base my libertarianism on the NAP. It discourages systematic thinking about the sources of coercion in reality, not just in theory.

  • ||

    I've long noted that, if a terrorist group really wanted to damage this country, all they need to do is add drugs to the water supply. Not a lot of drugs, mind you. Not even enough to get anyone high. Just enough so that everyone comes up hot on a urine test. We would proceed to destroy ourselves.

  • ||

    Then again, they say, "districts that subject all students to random drug testing would appear to eliminate the risk that those who use illicit substances may simply decline to participate in extracurricular activities to avoid testing."


    They will just quit school alltogether. That sounds like a good idea.

  • ||

    I'm gonna make this into a macro.

    Somebody, anybody, tell me again why the GOP is more "libertarian" than the Democrats. Please?

  • Ska||

    Because they support the Freedom Swatch?

  • Episiarch||

    Whoever is sockpuppeting Neil, knock it off. I want to know that when I see "Neil" I don't have to doubt whether "he" actually said it.

  • ||

    J sub D,
    The GOP is not more "libertarian" (and especially not anymore libertarian) than the Democrats. Way way back, when your father was feeling up your mother in the back seat of your Grandpa's Oldsmobile, the GOP was more libertarian than the Democrats. But even then it was just talk, and they were lying.

  • ||

    28 percent were testing all students.

    And just what do these schools do with students that refuse to participate?

  • Episiarch||

    And just what do these schools do with students that refuse to participate?

    They put them in a dodgeball match to the death. Last kid standing walks.

    If only this were funny, even just ho-hum funny like the movie Dodgeball. They probably call the cops or expel them.

  • robc||

    Warren,

    When CC was president, the GOP wasnt lying. Much. At least not about that.

  • ||

    Another reason why I dread having children. Some day when they want to test my seven year old for drugs and I tell them to shove it up their ass and threaten to sue, I have no doubt the CPS will be showing up at my door investigating a claim that I am abusing my child by not submitting him to humiliating and unwarrented drug testing. Wonderful.

  • ||

    I wonder what % of the teachers and faculty are tested at these schools. This shit is totally out of control. Maybe if everyone handed a cup to piss in filled it to the rim and tossed it on the collector no one would want the job any longer. No collectors no tests, seems simple enough. You have to be a pretty lowly human to make your living collecting piss from strangers for no medical reason just to invade their private life. If that was the only way I could make a living I would move to the woods and just worry about killing dinner each day. But really how many cups of piss would it take on average for the collector making $10 an hour to say fuck this and quit. I am thinking 1/2 a dozen times one right after the other should cover it.

  • ||

    Drugs make your life better.

    At least Merck and Phizer say so.

    I took legal Extacy (MDMA) for about five years before Reagan banned it as a "designer drug".

    Now - it is in clinical trials for Iraqi vet PTSD treatment.

    There will be no freedom until a person is free to pursue his personal bliss. (Campbell reference for conservatives)

  • fyodor||

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    Since legal penalties are restrictions of rights (taking away freedom and/or money), the question for legal issues is not "harm" per se but what are one's rights and when are those rights being infringed upon? Beucase one should only have one's rights restricted as a punishment for doing that to someone else. The point of saying you could always quit your job isn't (or at least shouldn't be) that it's a trifling matter but rather to point out that no one has a right to a job. You're not having your rights restricted when you're fired, for any reason, but you sure are when you have your ass kicked without provocation.

    Private organizations that conduct drug testing have that right, though that doesn't stop my right to say I think it's a dumb and obnoxious idea. Whether public schools have the rights of private organizations or should be treated as an arm of the state is at the crux of whether such drug testing should be legal. Because even if someone is not obligated to join an extra curricular activity, one presumes all students should have equal access to such activities unless their behavior gets in the way of such participation, which private drug use in and of itself does not. And the government is not supposed to search you without due cause. Of course, the courts have ripped up and tossed aside that principle in other matters as well....

  • ktc2||

    Wow, glad my kids are grown and independent.

    I think I'd lose it if they were expelled for refusing a drug test.

  • ||


    ktc2 | May 19, 2008, 5:01pm | #

    Wow, glad my kids are grown and independent.

    I think I'd lose it if they were expelled for refusing a drug test.



    If I were a parent, I think I'd lose it if my kids didn't refuse the drug test.

  • LarryA||

    "Almost all of those districts were testing student athletes, 65 percent were testing students enrolled in extracurricular activities, and 28 percent were testing all students."

    "Everybody knows" drugs are bad for you because they harm your body and destroy your mind, m'kay.

    If drugs are as harmful as "they" say, obviously student athletes and academic standouts aren't using them. Otherwise the drugs would keep them from performing to the level required of student athletes and academic standouts.

    Right?

    So why the emphasis on testing the best and brightest?

    If drugs are as harmful as "they" say teachers should be able to spot drug users. Testing should be unnecessary except for confirmation.

  • SIV||

    MNG,

    according to the "standard libertarian line" there are no "public schools".

    You don't have to drink the koolaid but if you are going to hang out here get a damn decoder ring!

  • SIV||

    shrike,

    A Democrat Congress banned MDMA. Reagan signed it into law,just like FDR signed the law that made marijuana illegal and LBJ with LSD.

    an aside, quick googling revealed a bizarro world in which plain 'ol illegal MDA didn't exist before "Ecstasy".MDA was readily available and much cheaper before the "ecstasy" fad started.

  • ||

    "Extacy" damages the synapses in the brain that control spelling, that much is clear.

  • ||

    I was born in 1955. Sometimes I think my g-g-generation had more freedom than any previous American generation. Sometimes I think that my g-g-generation had more freedom than any subsequent American generation will ever have.

    Crap.

  • ||

    Thank jod for Reagan and Nixon.

    Without them the drug war could never have happened, and without the push, the big push that Reagan gave the drug war and the anti-fourth amendment folks things like this could never have happened.

    Thank jod for small gov conservatives, eh?

  • ||

    Oh, and thank jod for the four "originalist" thinkers on SCOTUS, without whom the rape of the constitution would not be possible.

    Three cheers for them too, eh?

    (it's important to remember the other reason SCOTUS, and the four horsemen, allow suspicion less drug testing in the schools, after all they said, the guardianship powers of government schools trump parental rights, so these small gov conservatives say, at least....HO HO!)

  • Travis||

    "Private organizations that conduct drug testing have that right,"

    Bullshit, do private organiztions have a right to give you an anal cavity check everyday before work.

    Why is a private company allowed to invade the privacy of one part of your body legally, but other parts of your body. It's because President Reagan forced federal government workers to start taking drug tests. Once pandora's box of drug testing was opened by the government the private sector thought well if the government can invade the privacy of their workers why don't we also.

    If a worker isn't doing their job properly fire them. It shouldn't matter whether they are stoned or just plain stupid.

  • ||

    "You're not having your rights restricted when you're fired, for any reason, but you sure are when you have your ass kicked without provocation."
    Fyodor-why is that? I'm not trying to be cute, I'm just interested as to why getting your ass kicked plainly violates your rights but being told that you will be fired if you, say, use drugs in your spare time off the job does not. I'd rather have the ass kicking than lose a good job any day.

    I think the answer might be something you mentioned, that you have a right to not be struck without provocation but no right to a job. But I think a person does have a right to not have an employment agreement terminated based on his skin color, or whether she will sleep with the boss, or what they do on their spare time. You might say: well you could always get another job, or you should have contracted for privacy protection. But couldn't I just as easily say "well, you should lift weights more so noone would attack you?"

    "And the government is not supposed to search you without due cause. Of course, the courts have ripped up and tossed aside that principle in other matters as well...." I agree on both points.

    "according to the "standard libertarian line" there are no "public schools"."

    Well, duh SIV. But that doesn't stop libertarians from talking about public school policies and what they should be. In the Inner Circle of Libertopia there are no public schools, but in the Ninth Circle of Libertopia the public schools at least have certain restrictions.

  • ||

    fyodor
    Another point that may help us work this out. I simply don't get any of the talk about "rights" other than to think of a "right" as a "correct moral claim." When I say that the government should respect my "right" to free speech what I mean is that it would be morally wrong (incorrect) for them not to.

    The next question for someone (or actually the first) is: what makes something morally correct? I think one dandy answer is: to the extent that an act increases the amount of freedom of choice among the greatest number of people (that is, to the extent it maximizes liberty), then it is a morally correct thing to do.

    If you have a private organization in which all members really voluntarily agreed to have drug testing, then that's OK. But where you have a private organization in which one uses his/her bargaining power over another to get them to acquiecse to drug testing (or whatever), then I don't think liberty has been maximized there at all. So I'm against it as being wrong.

  • B||

    You know, what bothers me here isn't the fact that the everyday life of American high school students involves mandatory drug testing, walking through a metal detector, a constant police presence on campus, risk of suspension to arrest for some truly innocuous things, and all other manner of institutional stupidity that I could't have imagined when I was there.

    What bothers me is that I graduated from high school in 1996.

    This shit has happened fast.

  • LarryA||

    What bothers me is that I graduated from high school in 1996. This shit has happened fast.

    April 20, 1999, Columbine High School, the education equivalent of 9/11.

  • sachin||

    In any case drugs should be avoided. Instead of drug tests campaigns should be there to totally "prevent" students from the trap of drugs.

  • ||

    Finally. I only wish the schools had done this when I was a youngster. I was pretty damn bright, I think, but always an indifferent student. It would have helped if they had tested us on things I was interested in. If they had tested us on drugs back then I might have gone Ivy League- I was that good. I might even have been the first spun editor of the Harvard Law Review. Maybe I would now be running for President- as Yogi Berra once said, it's hard to make predictions, particularly about the present when it is the future of a past that is dependent on recent educational reforms. He was prescient, you gotta give him that.

    Anyway, I think I would have been a great prospect for the first spun-American President. I would never negotiate with Ahmadinejad. I would just dose him. Then I'd take him into the White House bathroom and show him this thing we figured out when I was about 15, and supposedly an underachiever.

    It turns out that if you fill a bathtub with cold water and let it settle for an hour or so, and then drip food coloring into it amazing things happen. You'd think that the coloring would just mix with the water and make colored water, but that is not the case at all. Instead it makes these _shapes_. It's hard to describe, particularly to the unspun, but it's outrageously cool. BTW, kids love that shit, even if you don't dose them.

    Anyway, once I had wossisname in there tripping on the colors I'd put an arm on his shoulder and ask him: "Seriously, now that you've seen that, can you really hate the Jews anymore?" If I could arrange it I'd try to dose Ariel Sharon at the same time and get him in that bathroom too. I wouldn't be surprised if those two were tonguing each other down before the night was over.

    So, even if we introduce universal drug testing now it will be too late to get me into office, but I imagine that in 2035 we will still have Jews, Arabs, bathtubs, and underrepresented spun-Americans, so I am all for standardized drug testing starting now.

  • ||

    ...damn, dpsc. That was a complex satire. I had to read it twice to get it. It's got a creepy William S. Burroughs vibe, but in a good way.

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