NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Drug Testing Students

October 1, 2002

In the wake of last spring's U.S. Supreme Court decision that schools could conduct drug tests on students involved in extracurricular activities, the matter has become a hot issue around the country.

  • Prior to the court's decision, about 5 percent of public school districts conducted drug tests of student athletes -- a practice sanctioned by the court in a 1995 decision.
  • But the plan to expand the test to other students had been in legal limbo until the most recent decision.
  • The proposals now being considered at the local level range from voluntary programs to incentives such as discount coupons for students who agree to be tested -- to, in some instances, the blanket testing of all students.
  • Authorities report that most large urban school districts have shown no interest in testing -- while many smaller districts, mainly in the South and Midwest, are very interested.

Testing is controversial. Many health and education groups -- from the National Education Association to the American Academy of Pediatrics -- oppose it. On the other hand, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy has begun distributing a pamphlet supporting it.

Source: Tamar Lewin, "With Court Nod, Parents Debate School Drug Tests," New York Times, September 29, 2002.


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