White House Pushes Controversial Student Drug Testing Agenda at Summit in Oklahoma City on January 31

Press Release January 29, 2008
Media Contact

Jennifer Kern at (415) 373-7694

Oklahoma City, OK — The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is conducting a series of regional summits designed to convince local educators to start drug testing students — randomly and without cause. This policy is unsupported by the available science and opposed by leading experts in adolescent health. The fourth summit of 2008 takes place on Thursday, January 31 in Oklahoma City at the Marriott Renaissance Oklahoma City Convention Hotel, 10 North Broadway at 8:30 a.m.

A group of concerned citizens will attend to provide educators with copies of the Drug Policy Alliance’s booklet Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No, which presents research showing that such testing is ineffective and provides resources for effective alternatives.

Studies have found that suspicionless drug testing is ineffective in deterring student drug use. The first large-scale national study on student drug testing, which was published by researchers at the University of Michigan in 2003, found no difference in rates of student drug use between schools that have drug testing programs and those that do not. A two-year randomized experimental trial published last November in the Journal of Adolescent Health concluded random drug testing targeting student athletes did not reliably reduce past month drug use and, in fact, produced attitudinal changes among students that indicate new risk factors for future substance use.

“Drug testing breaks down relationships of trust,” said Jennifer Kern, Drug Testing Fails Our Youth Campaign Coordinator at the Drug Policy Alliance. “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 group of concerned citizens will also provide educators with important information missing from the summit, such as the objections of the National Education Association, the Association of Addiction Professionals and the National Association of Social Workers to testing. These organizations believe random testing programs erect counter-productive obstacles to student participation in extracurricular activities, marginalize at-risk students and make open communication more difficult.

A December 2007 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse and Council of School Health reaffirmed their opposition to student drug testing, holding: “Physicians should not support drug testing in schools …; [because] it has not yet been established that drug testing does not cause harm.”

“Random student drug testing programs give parents the choice of consenting to drug testing or denying our children participation in extracurricular activities,” said Bonnie Muehlberg, a parent actively opposing a random student drug testing policy in the Newcastle School District. “The programs are invasive, ineffective and counterproductive. School authorities are interfering in an intimate decision that should be made by parents.”

The Guymon School District in Oklahoma abandoned their random student drug testing program. School Board President Scot Dahl commented, “we didn’t think it was the deterrent that we thought it would be…;We didn’t think it was as effective with the money we spent on it.”

Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators are Saying No, published by the Drug Policy Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, can be found online at www.safety1st.org. An excerpt from the booklet is included below:

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

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

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