One topic that gets brought up quite a bit is whether kids should be susceptible to drug testing in Kansas schools. Currently, children at both secondary and elementary schools can be asked to partake in drug tests. This is based on two separate opinions by the United States Supreme Court. In general, these two opinions state that secondary and elementary school students can be drug tested when they are involved in sports or other extra curricular activities (Vernonia School Dist. 47J v. Acton and Board of Education v. Earls).
A focus of this debate often involves the concept of money. In terms of finances, is this the best use of funding? Could the money be better used elsewhere? I think that it could. To begin with, students who are involved in sports or other extracurricular activities are less likely to use drugs than other students.
Of course, there are different situations, but certain circumstances are cause for concern. For example, if Kansas officers are coming to schools to question students because it's easier than finding the student outside of school, parents and citizens should be upset and not think that this is ok. Specifically, I am referring to situations where the alleged criminal act does not concern the school itself.
Students do have the right against self-incrimination, just like adults, and kids under the age of 14 cannot waive their right to remain silent or have an attorney without first having the chance to consult with a parent or legal guardian who is told about the child's rights (In re B.M.B.).
A report published by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) discussed these concerns and in general, why random drug testing is not a good idea. Studies done in both 1998 and again in 2001 found that random drug testing does not help deter or discourage drug use in young students. A survey of 76,000 students was conducted and it was found that “drug testing did not have an impact on illicit drug use among students, including athletes.”
Something else to consider is the cost of drug testing in schools. At the time the ACLU report was published, drug testing cost about $42 each time a student was tested. Thus, if a school tests 500 students, the cost will be right around $21,000! Keep in mind that this amount does not even include the additional costs that go along with drug testing (i.e., follow up testing).
This is a substantial sum of money and even more than what is spent on drug education, prevention, and counseling at the schools. To me, this is an unfortunate situation. Drug testing in schools takes away funding that could be better spent on education and prevention, rather than trying to “catch” a random student using drugs.
Also, the report speaks to the fact that there are some kids who actually choose not to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities because they don't want to deal with drug testing. These aren't kids who are worried about getting caught using drugs - they just don't like the idea of their privacy being violated.
So, what do you think? Do you think that drug testing in schools is a good policy? Or instead, could this money be allocated differently and put towards other programs?