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October 2008
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Urinetown

“bullet” Polk County, Florida is flushed with excitement over drug testing

High school athletes have been tested for drug and alcohol abuse use for almost five years, and the program needs to be expanded to include more students, said Audrey Kelley-Fritz, the senior manager of Prevention, Health and Wellness Services for Polk County Public Schools. […]
Kelley-Fritz said the district would be “behind the times” if the request to expand drug testing had not been made.

Behind the times? Hey, we’d better expand our drug testing. All the cool schools are doing it.

District officials determined that students in extracurricular organizations, such as the Future Business Leaders of America and Future Farmers of America, might benefit by being added to the testing pool.

Determined? How? Benefit? How? Are those really your target population for intervening with problem drug users?

The district’s expanded testing will include students who participate in activities that involve some kind of competition, something in which a first-, second- and third-place award is presented, Kelley-Fritz said.

Yeah, that makes sense. Wouldn’t want to let the potheads have an unfair advantage in capturing those blue ribbons. Although I wonder if you’ll see an increase in groups that only have a first and second place award.
“bullet” In Kanawha County, West Virginia, the school board voted to randomly drug test all teachers and school employees. That drew this strong OpEd from Steven Shamblin

This board cut field trips because of lack of funding. Where is the drug-testing money going to come from? Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent frivolously to accomplish the noneducational tasks and agenda of the board. Yet the students, the children of the Kanawha County constituents, suffer from the indulgences of this board.
Why is the board attempting not to fund the county library under the pretext of needing more money? Funding the library — and its branches in the public schools — would be a more effective use of money now earmarked for drug testing and its associated court costs.
With this policy, the board is declaring a warrant against every employee in the county as having probable cause. Every teacher and prospective teacher in the United States will know that Kanawha County schools is not the place to work. Not only is West Virginia ranked 48th in teacher pay, Kanawha County is ranked 18th in the state for supplemental teacher pay. Kanawha County schools may have a shortage of teachers to test.
What about school employees who have given their lives to the county for the education of its youth? After 20 to 30 years, are they now suspect? These professionals should be lauded for their service to Kanawha children, not stripped of dignity by asking them to provide a urine sample. Apparently the loyalty of employment flows only one way in Kanawha County.

And he notes the real truth that puts the lie to random drug testing:

The current policy is more than adequate; it gives the board authority to test “with cause.”

The use of random testing, instead of testing with cause, is evidence either of poor management skills or a solution in search of a problem.
“bullet” South Africa’s government is excited about implementing drug testing in schools, although some teachers and students are not.

One Durban teacher said she was terrified of testing pupils for weapons, let alone drugs. […]
Phila Masango, a 16-year-old pupil from Durban, said no one was going to force him to urinate.
He said by so doing they would be infringing on his dignity and privacy rights.

Random drug testing is an inefficient, unproductive, and cowardly way of managing. It is also the preferred style of the authoritarians — getting people accustomed to humiliating themselves before authority.
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*Title reference: “Urinetown” is a darkly funny musical about a town where authoritarians control the facilities and the poor people have to pay to piss. In our version of Urinetown, people have to piss to get paid (or to learn).

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