Amazed at this article from yesterday’s paper: Drug tests are rarely done in N.J. schools
Few New Jersey school districts randomly test their students for drugs, and none appears ready to start a new drug-testing program in September.
Fewer than a dozen of the state’s 615 school districts have random drug-testing programs, according to the New Jersey School Boards Association.
I could barely believe that this was the case…
A divided Supreme Court ruled that students in public schools have a diminished right to privacy under the state constitution and that Hunterdon Central Regional High School’s policy was not unreasonable or unfair.
Hunterdon randomly tests student-athletes, students who participate in other after-school activities and even those who park their cars on campus, said principal Lisa Brady…
…Hunterdon Central, whose testing pool includes about 80 percent of the high school’s 2,500 students.
…but the entire article expresses surprise that more schools aren’t doing the same thing. Wow. How appalling. Few NJ schools are interested in treating their students as automatic suspects and banning them from extra-curricular activities or car parking if they object. (The “extra-curricular activities” thing is a transparent way to make this effectively random testing, but technically not.) Oh, but it’s drugs we’re talking about here, isn’t it? So that makes it okay. Any one of the holy trinity of drugs, paedophilia and terrorism excuses anything.
I was looking for even a slight justification of why students in public schools should have a diminished right to privacy somehow but wasn’t able to find one, apart from “this isn’t really so bad”, but even one of the judges voting for this said:
“We state again that our holding is not to be construed as an automatic green light for schools wishing to replicate Hunterdon Central’s program,”
…though obviously, from this article, the assumption now is that it is an automatic green light.
As usual, look for the money, and it didn’t surprise me to read that there’s quite a bit of money involved in this practice.
Costs of $20, or even $60, per student may not seem like a lot. But consider this: A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education of nine schools with testing programs revealed an average cost of $42 per tested student. A high school of 1,000 students that randomly tests 50% its students at this cost per test spends $21,000 on preliminary testing alone, not to mention subsequent tests throughout the year. More expensive lab-based follow up testing for initial positive tests raises total costs significantly. One school’s program cost $36,500 for one year, a considerable amount for understaffed or under-resourced schools.
Don’t look at the studies saying that school drug testing doesn’t even reduce drug use, let alone improve learning, which is what schools are supposed to be for, I thought, rather than law enforcement.