White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda at Summit in Las Vegas on April 24

Press Release April 19, 2007
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 or Jennifer Kern at (415)373-7694

Las Vegas, NV — 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 final summit of 2007 takes place on Tuesday, April 24th in Las Vegas at the Cashman Center, 850 N. Las Vegas Blvd at 8:30 a.m.

Although the ONDCP has toured the country for the last four 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. Last month the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement in opposition to testing holding, “there is little evidence of the effectiveness of school-based drug testing in the scientific literature.”

Selected regional educators and drug testing industry representatives have been invited to attend the Las Vegas 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 National Education Association, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers to testing. These professionals believe random testing programs erect counter-productive obstacles to student participation in extracurricular activities, marginalize at-risk students and make open communication more difficult.

“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 Jennifer Kern, Drug Testing Fails Our Youth Campaign Coordinator at 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.

Random testing may trigger oppositional behavior, directing young people to more dangerous behaviors. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that mandatory testing may inadvertently encourage more students to abuse alcohol– not included in many standard testing panels– or may motivate some drug-involved adolescents to switch to harder drugs that leave the system quickly. A 2006 national survey found that 83 percent of physicians (pediatrics, family medicine, and adolescent medicine) surveyed disagree with drug testing in public schools.

Nevada communities have not embraced random student drug testing despite the ONDCP’s persistent efforts to spread the programs since 2004, with no known public schools conducting testing.

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 three regional summit of 2007 were held in Charleston, South Carolina (January 24), Newark, New Jersey (February, 27) and Honolulu, Hawaii (March 27).

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

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