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Bush administration urges schools to treat, not punish, student drug users.
September 3, 2002 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Bush administration urges schools to treat, not punish, student drug users. Issued Thursday [August 29, 2002] by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the guide says the aim of drug testing "is not to trap and punish students who use drugs. It is, in fact, counterproductive simply to punish them without trying to alter their behavior."
posted by Joey Michaels (20 comments total)

 
I guess they finally figured out that "Just Say No" wasn't the only answer.
posted by trox at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2002


I had figured that was going to turn out to be an Onion link.
posted by blueshammer at 3:17 PM on September 3, 2002


"It is, in fact, counterproductive simply to punish them without trying to alter their behavior."

Not Ludwig Van! ANYTHING BUT LUDWIG VAN! AAAAARRGH!!
posted by ZachsMind at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2002


Sheer nonsense. How many highschools can you name that are capable--money, staff, etc--to treat addiction? This is a huge oversimplification of "treatment."
posted by Postroad at 3:28 PM on September 3, 2002


Postroad, what in the article leads you to believe the schools would have to provide treatment themselves? I'm not getting that from the article.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:35 PM on September 3, 2002


I see your point, Postroad, but simple "zero tolerance" expulsion isn't the answer, either. I'm wary of the kind of treatment we can expect from local school districts, sure, but any moves away from a purely punitive approach are welcome. I'm also a little stunned that this proposal came from a Republican administration. Can it be that someone with some actual medical experience is being listened to over in the Drug Czar's office?
posted by mediareport at 3:35 PM on September 3, 2002


Maybe they could give the kids who do drugs little star emblems to wear on their clothes. That way the extracurricular activities could be safe from their scourge...

Oh crap... I call Godwin's Law on myself!

A better way would be to establish a grading system in public schools where a students education is ranked based ont he performance of his or her peers. That way the druggie kids would not be able to compete with the non-druggies. Druggies who want to improve their 'grades' could seek counseling to assist them in kicking their habits. Then colleges could chose to accept these kids based on this grading system.

Oh crap... we have that too.
posted by DragonBoy at 3:36 PM on September 3, 2002


Good god almighty. Isn't this sudden aboutface one of the seven signs? Where's Frank Black when you need him?
posted by kaemaril at 3:37 PM on September 3, 2002


This is just rhetoric. You still can't receive federal grants to go to college if you've been arrested for possession. You can't sell hemp food products. Medical users don't get covered by insurance.

I'm sure the "treatment" would be something like: "go clean toilets for a month... you're cured! Oh, by the way, there's a counseling program in the next county over."

At least it's better than the Bush Administrations answer to every other problem: "We don't believe that there actually are drug addicts, the research isn't strong enough," or "maybe we should feed these kids some good ol' Pharmaceuticals like ritalin and prozac... that'll keep them from turning to that terrible, awful pot."
posted by zekinskia at 4:04 PM on September 3, 2002


Under the ADA, or related regulation, school districts are required to provide a full range of treatment options for all students, including those with learning disabilities or emotional disorders. This can range from extra counseling or tutoring to special classes to alternative educational programs to in-patient facilities. In my family, there is a situation where I have become intimately aware of the nooks and crannies of these programs. There's a clear application of ED programs to drug abusers; it's likely there's a close relationship in any event.

There's no guarantee that the contracted programs won't turn out to be completely useless, but I don't see this as a smokescreen.
posted by dhartung at 4:08 PM on September 3, 2002


Isn't this sudden aboutface one of the seven signs?

What was that saying from Star Trek?

"Only Nixon could go to China..."
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:18 PM on September 3, 2002


"We don't need rehabilitation... we need the Tossed Salad Man!"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I'M A' LEARN TO READ!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:32 PM on September 3, 2002


Perhaps I was a bit hasty in my remark. But the kind of help usually needed is not available (long-term help) for those without resources, and in my experience, a long-term treatment seems to have the best results (personal experience)...I do not believe in kicking out youngsters for having been caught with drugs--in just about any sort of behavior problem there is the hope that a helping community might work; certainly booting someone out of school merely condemns the person the the streets and further damage. I would, though, like to see the funding that is or is not going to go into a better treatment program. We have neglected our serious and growing domestic issues thus far.
posted by Postroad at 5:46 PM on September 3, 2002


Article: It strongly cautions against suspending or expelling students without treating them, noting that expulsion can create "drug-using dropouts," an even bigger problem.

Hmm, perhaps this is more a symptom of the 'save our children' hysteria actually working in a socially positive direction for once than Bush and co relaxing a bit on their anti-drug position. Once these kids hit 18 they get no breaks as some drugs have not been decriminalized except in a handful of states and certainly not on the federal level.

As someone already mentioned there is no mention of repealing the HEA (Higher Education Act). Arguably, a huge obstacle in getting an education and a self-fulfilling prophecy to make sure drug users do become 'losers.' From the ACLU:
Students convicted of any other crime, even murder or rape, are still eligible for financial aid and tax credits, while those convicted of marijuana or other drug charges face a bar to aid that lasts anywhere from one year to life.

Some 10 million students apply for federal financial aid each year. According to the federal government's estimates, some 27 percent of all Americans aged 18 to 25 have used illegal drugs in the past year. That means the new law could potentially affect hundreds of thousands, even millions, of students.
I don't think this is surprising coming from Republicans, they've often used the 'save our children' hysterics and its practically party policy at this point, but when you hit 18 its all over. I'd like to believe this is the beginning of a drug-policy change, but it just sounds like rhetoric and old fashioned politics.

In fact Bush has made the HEA more encompassing:
According to the bill's author, Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN), the measure was intended to apply only to college students already getting loans or grants when convicted. But under the Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Education has interpreted the law to apply to any student with a history of selling or possessing drugs, no matter how minor the offense.
Until Bush does something about the HEA, he simply has no credibility in regards to not helping produce more "drug-using dropouts."

Higher Education Act? Christ, its also a friggin pun.
posted by skallas at 6:06 PM on September 3, 2002


The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in June that schools can require students to submit to drug tests before participating in competitive after-school activities, even if they have no particular reason to suspect wrongdoing.

So now the kids will just have to choose whether to smoke pot, or join the chess club. Hopefully them pesky troublemakers will be able to make their own fun.
posted by bingo at 6:14 PM on September 3, 2002


On a tangentially related topic, i wonder if this program was totally successful, how much the mortality rate of incoming college freshmen would climb based on accidental overdoses and alcohol poisoning.

Just thinking out loud.
posted by quin at 7:19 PM on September 3, 2002


I wouldn't be surprised if Bush was one of the first presidents to come up with a semi-reasonable way to deal with the "drug problem."

After all, he's been there himself.

(wow, can't believe no one else has taken a crack at that in five hours!)
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:51 PM on September 3, 2002


hahah, nice reference, ZachsMind :)

gave me a chuckle to start my day with
posted by shadow45 at 6:14 AM on September 4, 2002


Disclaimer: I support the full legalization of any and all drugs.

This makes me very, very wary. Fascist governments love it when something gets classified as a "disease" rather than a crime. It means they get to use punishments that would get any prison shut down (it helps one's perspective to keep in mind that a few lobotomies are still carried out each year in the United States), give "sentences" of indefinite length that can be changed at a bureaucrat or doctor's whim, and utterly dispense with nonsense like due process, a fair (or any) trial, the right to an attorney, etc.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:29 AM on September 4, 2002


It's a trap - get the kids to come forward about their drug use in a circle-hug confessional, then spring the punishment on them. Like urging kids to talk about their lives in essays, then using the essay as evidence against them. Ring any bells?
posted by holycola at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2002


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