Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Public Education

I was driving home from school today listening to ESPN radio (Seriously, how old am I that I willingly listen to talk radio?) and the guys on the program were discussing a plan by a TX state representative to put forward a bill that would require public schools in Texas to randomly test high school athletes for steroids.

One of the radio guys mentioned how he thought it was an idiotic idea, in part because the sponsor of the bill did not know how many students were taking steroids, and whether or not they were a problem. I think the other guy was less opposed to it, but did not support the idea, but I want to comment on the former opinion now.

I think it's monumentally silly to argue against a bill like this because we "don't know if it's a problem." That's arguing against the issue. The issue here is not "we need to find out who is using steroids," the issue is "we want to put the students on notice that we are testing, and if they use steroids and get caught, it's their ass." It's a preventive measure (Jamie, you may recognize this approach from class today), where the idea is to discourage kids from doing steroids in the first place.

Personally, I think this concept could be expanded. I think there is a strong argument in favor of mandating random drug tests among all students in Texas schools (or any other state). I think it comports with the school's responsibility to protect the students, it polices the students in advance, it's facially neutral (if done right, say you have two drawings of 9 digits, the first is the location on the social security number 123-45-6789 and the second is the actual number that appears in that location, then have all students whose social has that number in that place take the test), it matches the current curriculum of resisting drug use, and it is in keeping with public policy.

Public education is a privilege, and that privilege should come with responsibility. Teaching kids to avoid drugs in junior high and high school can help set a drug-free pattern after high school, and having fewer people using drugs results in fewer people being arrested for using drugs, and that leads to fewer people in jail, which leads to fewer government (read: tax) dollars going to house people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I wrote a memo on this for the ACLU, I am against testing students for drugs.

The school could test for other things besides drugs without permission. Also, these test results could end up being seen by many many people within the school system. I also worry about the random factor-- how are they going to come up with testing.

I much rather like/support the idea that schools/school districts provide testing supplies and parents who are worried come and get them for free/discount and test thier kids themselves.

Just my dos centavos.