When it comes to testing students’ achievements, there are no end of measurements. But, how much is too much? Should we test for illicit behaviors? Is it time for drug testing in schools? As the academic year begins across the country, students prepare for a new round of testing. Those who are going out for sports have gotten their physicals while others passed tests to transfer credits. Others are gearing up for upcoming PSATs and other tests. Several districts are asking: is it time for drug testing in schools? Several school districts say yes.
Parents are tasked with many child rearing responsibilities. In today’s society, many families are so overwhelmed with keeping a roof over their heads, they might let things slide. The majority of parents intend to pay attention to their children’s lives, but a lack of time means missing concerning behaviors. So, what role is appropriate for schools to play?
What role should schools play?
For decades, schools have walked a fine line between academics and parenting when necessary. At times, staff have stepped in to lend an ear or point a student toward other resources when needed. In addition, administrators walk on ice when it comes to discipline as many parents object to their child facing consequences.
Sadly, as more parents become disengaged — for various reasons — schools are finding themselves stuck between the chalkboard and the ruler. In light of the fact that drug use is becoming a widespread problem, schools are not immune to this serious — and often deadly — scourge. Some schools are now instituting policies that require drug testing. Many only test students who drive but others resort to this tool only when a student has caused problems. In several districts, drug testing in schools as a preventive measure is an idea that is gaining momentum
How early should students be tested?
So, if drug testing in schools is a valid concept, when should it be done? As a tool to help detect drug and alcohol use at an early stage, school boards elected to institute random drug screening at the middle school level. Though some parents have expressed concerns about violating a child’s privacy, helping kids get treatment early has overridden these objections.
Drug screening was first proposed for students who wanted to participate in sports and other activities. Now, schools are randomly testing students in an effort to ensure that those with a potential problem receive intervention sooner.
There are penalties, but prevention is the goal
Students who test positive often face escalating punishments. In one district, students are subjected to a two-week suspension from extra-curricular events. The punishments increase in severity for further offenses. The school insist, though, that the focus is on preventing a problem rather than punishing students who have a substance abuse problem.
There are several school districts who are opting to add drug testing as a requirement. It is hoped that the idea of facing a random test may encourage students to choose healthier options for dealing with life’s challenges. In general, the majority of students are in favor of the new drug policies.
Is it time for drug testing in schools. Maybe
Sadly, in today’s culture, schools may be forced to play a parental role more and more. In the busyness of life, parents may not have the time to make meaningful connections with their children. If schools are able to prevent more lives lost to drug use, then yes, maybe it is time for drug testing in schools as part of the answer to this important issue.
Our children are the future. It may take a community effort to ensure that there are future leaders. They in turn, will take a role in saving lives in the future. Even though there are privacy concerns, this may be one of times when the ends do justify the means.