Pubdate: Mon, 05 Aug 2002
Source: Log Cabin Democrat (AR)
Copyright: 2002 The Log Cabin Democrat
Author: Michael Conine, Conway:


Personal freedoms are the island upon which the United States is built. 
However, this island is made of sand and is easily and quickly eroded. We 
see the erosion happening all around us from the decisions of the Supreme 
Court on down to the decisions of the local school board.

We all react loudly to the loss of our religious freedoms. The recent court 
decisions concerning prayer in schools and the reciting of the Pledge of 
Allegiance come to mind. However, some of these losses pass without much 
notice or concern by the public.

I am talking about the decision of the Conway school board to allow random 
drug tests of students. I have heard parents say "In order to stop the 
spread of drugs I will accept a loss of some of my rights." How many rights 
can we afford to lose? They complain that the government has no right to 
make them wear a seat belt, but it's OK to force a child to give a urine 

At this most awkward stage in a child's life we are going to hand them a 
cup and say go fill this. What happens when they stain their clothing? Will 
they have to go through the day like this? Will they be allowed to go in a 
stall alone to give the sample? How do we know that the sample was not 
tampered with before being handed over? For that matter, how will we know 
that the samples are not tampered with after being collected?

Do we really think that it is the school's duty to keep our kids off drugs? 
It is the job of the parents to lead their children. But in our blameless 
society, we will say the schools should have done a better job. I doubt 
that the students who are using drugs are in after-school activities, but I 
have no doubt that there will be incorrect results on some tests.

What happens to these children falsely accused? They will forever carry the 
stigma of having tested positively on a drug test. What happens when they 
apply for college? Will they be denied admission for this reason? I'm sure 
most colleges and universities don't want students who have a history of 
drug abuse.

Where does the money for these tests come from? U.S. News and World Reports 
stated in an article in its May 31, 1999, edition that the cost of testing 
is typically $70,000 a year for weekly random tests of 75 students.

Most of these tests don't include tests for steroids, LSD or alcohol. It's 
reported that in some districts with drug testing, alcohol abuse is 

Don't think that as an adult you are safe either. According to an article 
in the Aug. 12, 2002, U.S. News and World Reports, 61 percent of major U.S. 
companies administer pre-employment drug tests and 20 million to 25 million 
people are tested annually in the United States. What's driving this rush 
to test everyone of us? My belief is good old-fashioned greed. Again, 
according to the U.S. News article, the estimated annual revenues of the 
drug-testing industry is $737 million.

Since I have no say in whether my child gets tested, I would like to 
propose these additional tests (including testing for alcohol):

1. Test all parents. How many times have we seen the public service 
announcement where the parent asks his child "Where did you learn to do 
this?" and the child replies "Watching you Dad."

2. Test all teachers.

3. Test all administrators.

4. Test all school board members. It appears to me that their judgment is 
clouded by something on this issue.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart