Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shameless self-promotion: Hey, I care about the kids, too!

Boy, am I glad I'm not in high school anymore. And I'm really glad I'm not a student at Kimberly High School.

On Monday the Kimberly school board will decide whether to issue random breath tests for alcohol use at high school events. The proposal is part of the school district's Operation Clean program, which began in 2002 when a survey found a significant number of students were abusing drugs and alcohol. Which, if you have ever attended high school, is about as shocking as learning most kids don't like algebra.

If the policy is enacted, random Kimberly kids will have to suck on a Breathalyser before going to a high school dance. And I thought working up the courage to kiss a girl at 16 was nerve-wracking. Puckering up for a plastic tube in front of prosecutorial teachers and parents is a scholastic indignity that ranks with pep rallies, gravity checks and learning the Irish step dance in gym class.

Drug tests aren't new for Kimberly kids. The high school randomly tests students participating in extracurricular activities, applying for parking permits and joining the Promise Makers, a group of students that has vowed against drug and tobacco use.

Hold on, even the Promise Makers get tested? Maybe the club should be called Your Promise Making, While Appreciated, Isn't Good Enough.

I don't doubt the good intentions of the Kimberly School Board. But random drug tests are a stupid, stupid idea. (Feel free to add a few more stupids.) Not because it's illegal. It is well established that teenagers have as much privacy as Britney Spears inside a school. Random drug tests are dumb because they don't prevent kids from taking drugs. They prevent kids from going to school functions.

Do you remember what it's like to be a teenager? Resentment of authority is a religion to these people. When I was teenager the student body got worked up over not being able to wear hats in the classroom. Hats! I sound like I went to high school in the '20s. This goes well beyond restricting headgear. Drug tests send a clear message, and that message is: "Hey, drunk and stoned kids, we don't want you in a structured environment with adult supervision where young people can have fun without drugs and alcohol. Stay in your friend's basement listening to Pink Floyd. You are easier to ignore there."

Administrators will point toward supposed progress the Operation Clean program has made, but I don't buy it. Don't underestimate the sneakiness of teenagers and how they can manipulate adults into looking away from reality. If a grown-up asks about alcohol, drugs or sex, a kid knows what the right answer is: "No way, sir! Wouldn't do it! I would much rather drink this glass of milk and watch The Disney Channel." And adults are perfectly willing to smile, nod and talk about what little angels they have as Junior raids the liquor cabinet and cues up "Dark Side of the Moon."

Believe me, kids still are drinking and doing drugs in Kimberly, just as they are in every town in the area. I don't have any hard data proving this just as I don't have hard data proving kids are listening to rap music, eating hamburgers and using the word "like" three times in every sentence. But I feel confident taking a leap of faith.

Read the rest here.


Blogger paul said...

Enjoyed it. I liked the public policy left turn you took at the end.

7:47 PM  

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