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May 2009
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Students sue to stop drug testing

This kind of student awareness is gratifying to see.

A Shasta County Superior Court judge will rule Wednesday on a temporary injunction sought by a group of students hoping to block Shasta Union High School District’s drug-testing policy. […]
An injunction would allow students in the district to participate in band, choir and other extracurricular activities without having to take drug tests.
One of the students suing the school district wants to participate in a state flute competition this weekend. When randomly selected earlier this year, the student refused to take the drug test.

Do you know what that student had to go through to be selected to be in a state flute competition? The hours of practice and dedication!
I work with music students every day and they are extraordinarily bright and hard working. They have to be to attempt that career path. This flautist is not likely to be a problem for the school, so why are they going after her for drug testing?
Well, the answer is that school officials aren’t allowed (yet) to test all students, so they have to come up with rationale to test as many as they can, and they use the extra-curricular activity approach as one way to do it. How?

He also argued that some of these activities could be dangerous for students impaired by drugs or alcohol. FFA students work with livestock at many of their competitions and students performing in show choir employ complicated lifts in their dance routines, he said.
“We have targeted the group most at risk of being harmed,” Kelley said.

Bull. That doesn’t even pass the laugh test, let alone the smell test. And what about playing the flute?
The truth is that targeting extra-curricular activities is a horrible approach. Students who are actively involved in music and theatre and FAA and other positive after-school activities are more likely to be well-balanced in their lives. Does that mean that all of them are going to be completely drug-free? Of course not, no more than any other group. However, they are much less likely to have a drug problem than students who have no positive extra-curricular activities.
So even the tiniest possibility that your drug testing policy will deter students from participating in these activities is harmful. And given the value of these activities, every dollar you spend on drug testing could be more productively spent on band.

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