White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda At Four Regional Summit

Press Release January 17, 2006
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335- 5384 or Tommy McDonald at (646) 335-2242

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) will conduct a series of summits promoting student drug testing, beginning January 19th, in Orlando, Florida. Three more summits will follow in San Diego (February 22), Falls Church, VA, (March 15), and Milwaukee (April 25).

Although the Bush administration has been busy promoting student drug testing for the last three years, the largest ever study on the effectiveness of such testing found no difference in drug use among students who were tested and those who were not. The federally funded study, released in 2003, included 76,000 students from across the country.

“Drug testing is humiliating, costly and ineffective, but it’s an easy anti-drug sound-bite for the White House,” said Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum, a mother of four and the director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Safety First project. “The people and educators across the country who make serious decisions about young people’s safety won’t find the information they need at these propaganda-filled summits. They need the actual research, not slogans and junk science.”

The new 2006 edition of a 25-page booklet published by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU, Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No, provides the latest scientific research on student drug testing. The booklet covers the legal implications associated with student drug testing, analyzes the costs of implementing such policies, and provides further resources for educators interested in addressing drug abuse among young people. The second edition addresses the limitations and prohibitive expense of testing for steroids, an issue considered by the Florida legislature, and outlines cost-effective educational alternatives specifically targeting steroid use. Over 25,000 school officials, parents and concerned citizens across the country received the first edition of the booklet.

Local educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the summits, where the drug czar’s office will continue to tout student drug testing as a “silver bullet” to address teen drug use. But participants in the summit won’t be told that student drug testing not only doesn’t work, it may in fact deter young people from participating in the very extracurricular activities that have proven to decrease drug use. Educators will also be informed about the federal government’s enlarged grant program for schools that want to implement student drug testing.

“They like to pretend that random drug testing is about responding to local concerns and helping young people,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “But in reality they’re pushing this from Washington, ignoring the leading science, and using soft rhetoric to cover their real agenda — punishment.”

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at http://www.drugtestingfails.org.

Excerpt from the booklet Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No:

Comprehensive, rigorous and respected research shows there are many reasons why random student drug testing is not good policy:

There are alternatives to drug testing that emphasize education, discussion, counseling and extracurricular activities, and that build trust between students and adults.

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at www.drugtestingfails.org.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.