White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda at Summit in Honolulu on March 27

Press Release March 21, 2007
Media Contact

Pamela Lichty at (808) 224-3056 or Kit Grant at (808) 552-5904

Honolulu, HI — The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of regional summits designed to convince local educators to implement across-the-board random, suspicionless student drug testing. This policy is unsupported by the available science and opposed by leading experts in adolescent health. The third summit of 2007 takes place on Tuesday, March 27th in Honolulu at the Sheraton Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Avenue at 8:30 a.m.

Although the ONDCP has toured the country for the last three years promoting student drug testing, the largest study on the effectiveness of such testing, conducted by respected federally-funded researchers in 2003, found no difference in drug use among 94,000 students who were tested and those who were not.

Selected regional educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the Honolulu summit, where the ONDCP will continue to describe student drug testing as a “silver bullet” to prevent adolescent drug use. A group of concerned citizens will also attend to provide educators with important information missing from the summit, such as the objection of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers to testing. These professionals believe random testing breaks down relationships of trust between students and adults and contribute to a hostile school environment.

“We need to spend our resources educating young people, not putting them under expensive surveillance programs that have not been proven safe or effective,” said Pamela Lichty, President of the Drug Policy Forum of Hawai’i and Board Member of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Drug testing breaks down relationships of trust. All credible research on substance abuse prevention points to eliminating, rather than creating, sources of alienation and conflict between young people, their parents and schools.”

The Hawaiian State Legislature has already considered, and rejected, the policy. In February 2003 the Hawai’i State Legislature voted down a bill that would have allowed schools to randomly drug test students enrolled in athletics or “physically strenuous” extracurricular activities. Currently no public schools in Hawaii have a random drug testing policy.

“With the absence of evidence supporting random drug testing in schools, and given that there are substance abuse prevention programs that are non-intrusive, respect students’ dignity and privacy and have been proven to work, why would a school embark on such a controversial program?” said Dr. Katherine Irwin, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

“As a concerned parent I want my children to refuse drugs for better reasons than fear of a random test. We want them to develop deeper, internal reasons to resist drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, ones that will stay with them during summers when school is out of session, and when they graduate and go on to college.” said E.J. Heroldt, a parent of children at Mid-Pacific Institute, a private school that implemented a voluntary drug testing program.

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No (2006), a 25-page booklet published by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU, 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 resources for educators who are interested in addressing drug abuse among young people.

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No can be found online at http://www.drugtestingfails.org. Excerpts from the booklet are included below:

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

The first and second regional summit of 2007 were held in Charleston, South Carolina (January 24) and Newark, New Jersey (February, 27). The last summit will be held later this year in Las Vegas, NV (April 24).

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

Sign up for updates from DPA.