The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a regional summit in Albany on Wednesday to persuade local educators to drug test students – randomly and without cause. The New York Civil Liberties Union opposes this policy, which is unsupported by science and opposed by leading adolescent health experts. Wednesday’s summit, one in a nationwide series sponsored by ONDCP, will be held at the Crown Plaza Albany, located at State and Lodge streets, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The NYCLU, working with the Drug Policy Alliance, is organizing a group to attend the summit and express opposition to suspicionless student drug testing. The NYCLU bases its opposition on a large body of empirical research that indicates the White House policy is misguided.
"Our schools should stay focused on education, prevention and health, not invasive drug testing programs that have never been proven safe or effective," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "New York students deserve comprehensive, interactive and honest drug education with assistance and support for students whose lives have been disrupted by substance use."
Random student drug testing is opposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Education Association, the Association of Addiction Professionals, and the National Association of Social Workers, among others. These organizations believe random testing programs erect counter-productive obstacles to student participation in extracurricular activities, marginalize at-risk students and make open communication more difficult.
A number of national studies have also found that suspicionless drug testing is ineffective in deterring student drug use. The first large-scale national study on student drug testing, which was published by researchers at the University of Michigan in 2003, found no difference in rates of student drug use between schools that have drug testing programs and those that do not. A two-year randomized experimental trial published last November in the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded random drug testing targeting student athletes did not reduce past month drug use and, in fact, produced attitudinal changes among students that indicate new risk factors for future substance use.
"Drug testing breaks down relationships of trust," said Jennifer Kern, youth policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. "All credible research on substance abuse prevention points to eliminating, rather than creating, sources of alienation and conflict between young people, their parents and schools."
"Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No," published by the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, can be found online at www.safety1st.org.
"Drug testing programs, instead of lowering drug use, alienate students from the very activities that are most effective in keeping kids out of trouble," said Melanie Trimble, director if the NYCLU’s Capital Region Chapter. "They drive students away from programs like athletics that have been shown to build character and set them on positive life paths. Schools would be wise to reject drug testing and spend their limited resources on new or expanded extracurricular programs instead."