• by The Rev. Dana Lockhart

Guest Opinion

As someone deeply concerned about civil liberties, I oppose drug testing students in public schools as a matter of principle. However, after reading your recent article about the policy under consideration by the Woodford County School Board, I wanted to make sure that my position was also grounded in fact before commenting publicly. Therefore, I did some research on the issue. As a pastor, parent and taxpayer, I am deeply concerned by what I found.

For instance, in 2015 the American Academy of Pediatrics announced its opposition to drug testing programs in schools because of the lack of evidence of their effectiveness. This is the leading organization in our country when it comes to our children’s health. At a time when the school board has passed a significant tax-increase to build a new high school, I question whether it is responsible to spend thousands of dollars annually on a drug testing program that lacks solid evidence of effectiveness.

Moreover, when I dove deeper into the research (published online by the National Institutes of Health), things got even more alarming.

For instance, a 2013 study done at the University of Michigan found that student drug testing in schools “generally was associated with increased use of illicit drugs other than marijuana.” While it is only one study, this result should still raise a red flag for anyone concerned about the opioid epidemic in our community. It is possible that introducing drug testing into the schools could make the problem worse by incentivizing switching to drugs like opioids that leave the system quickly.

The school board is to be commended for their efforts at achieving drug free schools in Woodford County. They also deserve respect for allowing additional time for public comment on this issue. However, students, parents and taxpayers deserve better than an expensive, intrusive and unproven program.

Links to the materials referenced: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/AAP-Opposes-In-school-

Drug-Testing-Due-to-Lack-of-Evidence.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23406889

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