My Alma Mater in Vermilion, Ohio is having a discussion to be one of the first states to do wide scale drug testing on students. Of course this just isn’t all students, just the ones that are doing extracurricular activities. The testing also starts as young as middle school. I know some people who I still have ties with back there would think of it as a good thing. It isn’t. It is a waste that is a huge invasion of privacy.
I’m sure part of this idea started with the testing of welfare recipients in Florida. I was against this because of privacy of concerns. The thought was that a high number of welfare recipients were on drugs. Some were, these people stopped receiving benefits. The offset though is there was no savings. By most accounts it cost the welfare division in Florida more, because of the costs of testing. Florida could actually save money by not testing welfare recipients.
What does one have to do with the other? Children in school are looked at as having no constitutional rights. If you tax money is going towards these kids activities they shouldn’t be burn outs, right? Wrong. Children in extracurricular activities are more likely to go on and do better in life than those that are not. This is regardless of drug use at the school level. What you are doing is segregating the school and chasing away students that might have a long term better shot as society.
Some children that experiment with drugs have a peer group that will either get them clean or at least do better with their lives. I know people who did pot in school. Some of them didn’t do much with their lives. Some are business owners, white-collar professionals, and a couple of doctors. This has direct correlation with the environment they group in. Most of the successful ones were in extracurricular activities. Most of the ones that still live day-to-day, were not. Social groups are important to shaping the lives we will lead in the future.
We then move onto the privacy issue. A few months ago a child was suspended from school (not Vermilion) because of a random drug test. Marijuana was found in his blood stream. Outside of school the child was dealing with a painful illness and used the marijuana to deal with it. His parents knew and supported it. This kid made it all over the news. Everyone now know of his medical problems, because of a random drug test.
School is not like the real world. It is harsher. If this happens to a middle school kid, he will have to deal with everyone knowing this about him for years. If a kid in drama club is on steroids for an illness, I’m sure he could get a waiver for the drug in his system. Everyone would then wonder why he was blocked from participating until it was straightened out. His medical condition has now been disclosed. The advantage to the schools is they do not have to honor HIPAA in the same way that medical professions do.
They do tell you all this is for the real world. You know all those musicians or actors that are constantly drug tested. With the exception of factory work, I don’t know many companies over a certain level that actually do drug testing. They all keep it as their right, but they don’t actually enforce it. The majority of kids will never face drug testing if they get into a job that is perceived as one needing a college degree. Yet, somehow they say high school is like the real world. (Seriously where is all this biology or advanced algebra I’m supposed to be using all the time).
Some people won’t care. The most they will do is vote against it because their taxes might go up. They view children as lesser individuals and somehow if someone on the debate team is smoking weed they are an evil person. Some adults seem to forget what school is like and how many people actually do pot. They also don’t pay attention to the trillions a failed drug war each year is costing us. Most states are decriminalizing pot, while Vemilion is going to be setting back students in life if they touch it.
Some people might think I’m defending this because I must be a hippie that smoked pot all the time in high school. Actually if I had been drug tested every day in high school, they would have found out I had three mouthfuls of beer, two cigarettes, a two-week stretch on proscribed codeine. and possibly pot – but that is only because I was in a car once or twice where it was smoked, I never smoked it myself. What about since high school?
Since high school I have tried pot three times with mixed results. I’m not averse to it, I just don’t smoke it. Those three incidents were spread over fourteen years. I’d have various amounts of alcohol in my system – but I don’t drive unless I’m sober. I’d have tobacco in my system. I think that is about it. I don’t need to worry about drug testing because I would pass it. I also work as a computer security consultant just in case that is something you are wondering.
Even though I would pass a drug test. I’m still against in most scenario’s. When I worked for NASA I had no problem get tested, since I was paid with federal money. My current employer also holds the right to get me tested. I would probably concede, but I would be unhappy. Getting tested is my choice so I can do the job I want to have. I know and accept that. My child on the other hand is a different matter.
If my child wants to be in choir in seventh grade, his right to privacy should not be stripped from him. Whether he is or isn’t clean doesn’t matter. No enhancing drugs are going to make him a better singer. There is no reason to do drug testing for non-sports students at all. Whatever he is taking medically is not the school’s business if he is not taking it at school. Some of my friends used to wonder why I didn’t move back to Vermilion. I can point to policies such as this. In my opinion, my child has the same rights I do. He, however, is forced to attend school and have this loom over him. I can always choose to get a job somewhere else.
I want to the best for my son. I know he will make mistakes. I know he will try some substance as a teenager. I know he will likely engage in underage intercourse. My job as a parent is to prepare and get him ready for that. I’m not going to place my child in a school where the lack of extracurriculars or the right peer groups might harm his chances for the college of his choice or hinder his long-term career. If the drug testing does go through, that is what it is going to do for a whole generation of adolescents in Vermilion.
Hopefully, the school board will strike this down at 7PM tonight.