Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No More Schooling While Drunk - New Jersey To Give Students Alcohol Tests

From Ash:

I came across an interesting news item that a New Jersey school district has announced that it's going to randomly test students for alcohol-use – using urine tests that apparently can detect if alcohol was consumed as many as 80-hours earlier. Not that I want to encourage underage drinking, but I think this is an ill-conceived attempt at agenda-driven policy. It may have been created out of the best of intentions, but its ramifications needed to be thought through more seriously before its instigation.

While random drug-testing has been allowed by the courts, I'm not so sure that this will stand up to the inevitable challenge. Here's what makes this different. Drug-tests are allowed because there's a two-fold concern – first, concern that drug-dealing and drug-using take place on campus, and second, that kids who are loaded pose an imminent threat to themselves and others – especially in something like a sports-activity where kids may be intentionally smashing into each other to begin with.

But, as quoted by AP, the Superintendent's interest in alcohol-testing doesn't at all relate to students' on-campus activities; instead, she specifically moans the number of teen drunk-driving fatalities. While those are of course tragic, there's a vast difference in justifying testing on activities completely unrelated to school, compared to a claim that it's dangerous to have a kid high on speed running around a football field.

What's really troubling about the District's position is that it's essentially a "no confidence" vote for the parents in the community. It's impossible to see this action without concluding that the District has essentially decided that parents have wholly failed to police their kids in this regard; thus, the schools must act in loco parentis - legally becoming the kids' parents. Schools can do that, but only for very specific reasons, and under very prescribed circumstances.

Even beyond the troubling in loco parentis position, it's hard to see that this will not result in the schools becoming a police enforcer, designed to identify (and presumably punish) those are drinking underage. Again, in exigent circumstances, that can be allowed – but that's not what the Super's concerned about.

The whole thing reminded me of an interesting study of school districts who did or didn't institute drug-testing. The report, in Education Law Review, found that the schools with drug-testing policies were schools that did not seem to have drug problems. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.

Only 12.7% of the Superintendents surveyed said the efforts to initiate a drug-testing policy were arising out research that there was actual drug-use in schools. Instead, for more than 50% of the districts, the policy was simply based in a personal view by the district's Superintendent or its School Board that drug-testing should be put in place. With no support whatsoever.

And I noted that (at least in the AP report) the New Jersey Superintendent who announced alcohol testing doesn't address if alcohol-use has ever been a problem in her schools.


Blogger D. Stephen Goldman said...

Apparently the tests don't differentiate between Listerine use in the morning and liquor consumption over the weekend.

The bottom line here is the same as with suspicionless drug testing. We are raising children to live like sheep in a police state.

Fortunately, there will always be some young people to rebel. And others to figure out a way around whatever tests are developed.

The rest will just roll the dice and take their chances.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Chondrus said...

This is odd.
From what I can tell, it's perfectly fine for the parents to allow a kid to drink in the home under their supervision, because of invasion of privacy, just as it's legal for underage kids to drink in religious services, because of religious freedom. Hence, does this mean that someone whose parents allow them to have a glass of wine with dinner when they do so (like mine always did) will now get in trouble? And will the tests be able to pick up a mouthful of whatever from a religious service?

Basically, it boils down to: does the school have the legal right to punish those who were drinking under legal circumstances - or have my parents been ignoring the law to teach the invaluable lessons that white wine is served with pasta, red gets those bulbous glasses, etc.?

Personally, if one wants to do something about drunk driving, testing isn't the way to go. Harsher penalties, sure. Those odd wheels that won't let you drive if they detect a high blood-alcohol percentage, sure. But testing? That destroys the difference between a real problem and a choice., imo, since it's not alcohol that kills people, it's driving under the influence that kills people. Then again, I'm all for lowering the drinking age because of the same reasons.

7:26 PM  
Blogger John Wisse said...

First it was testing for cigarettes, then drugs and guns, a proper attire, and now alcohol. When will schools really begin testing themselves. More importantly, when will they begin to be truly held accountable, and by whom?


2:59 PM  
Blogger alex said...

This is alexhopes ,cigarette smoking is injurious to health. First it was testing for cigarettes, then drugs and guns, a proper attire, and now alcohol. When will schools really begin testing themselves. More importantly, when will they begin to be truly held accountable, and by whom?



2:03 PM  
Anonymous Accident Attorney said...

I wasn't aware that this policy was anything new. I had a few friends that were expelled from school for being drunk here in california.

This was about 3 years ago.


Car Accident Lawyer

1:07 PM  

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