Friday, August 11, 2017

Are we there yet?

Although I couldn't find it when I went looking for it, I remember the column I wrote about "random" drug testing. It was sometime in the early 90s. Imagine my surprise when I saw by an editorial in July 28's Peru Tribune that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Here is my response. In order to be fair, I also sent it to the Tribune for them to address--or not--how they chose.

On July 28, reading the Peru Tribune, I was pleased to see an article about Ole Olsen’s Children’s Theatre’s production of The Tempest. I was glad to see Maconaquah’s projects being reported on. Police Chief Mike Meeks gave an informative interview about Narcan. I even liked the headline on the op-ed page that proclaimed, “Schools need to step up.” Because where kids are concerned, of course schools need to step up. As do parents. Churches. Politicians. The kids themselves.
          But then I read this one phrase in the editorial, the one that said, “…strongly considering adopting drug testing for high school juniors and seniors involved in extracurricular activities as well as students who drive themselves to school.” Is this then the stepping up the Tribune is referring to?
          When my kids were in school in the 90s, there was a lot of talk of random drug testing among student athletes. I don’t know if it was ever implemented, because my kids graduated and my mind moved on to other things, but I do recall writing a column that questioned the randomness of only testing student athletes. I didn’t understand then—and still don’t—what was random about that. What about student musicians, student librarians, and the students who skip school as often as they attend? Was there no possibility, no matter how remote, that any of them might be using as many illegal drugs as the athletes?
          So, here we are 25 years after my indignant column, and the definition of “random” apparently hasn’t changed a bit. Students who do not join extracurricular activities--which I always thought we encouraged, didn’t we?—and those who don’t or can’t drive themselves to school are evidently drug-free.
          Now, I admit I’m a little out of it as far as kids go. Well, maybe a lot out of it, but I still don’t understand the picking and choosing. I have no problem with drug testing, as long as it starts with the administrators and works its way down through the faculty to the student body. I truly doubt it will do any good, but I’m usually happy with proactive things. Of course, I’d be happy if the schools’ stepping up had more to do with curricula, better teacher salaries, and making sure no kid ever went home hungry. Or, wait, maybe just the band kids and the ones who wear green T-shirts could go home hungry. Yeah, just random ones. That’s it. 
          Our prompt at this month's writers' group meeting was "are we there yet?" I didn't have to explain at all what this essay had to do with the prompt. Twenty-five years after such total inequality was encouraged, it’s being encouraged yet again. It makes me think of prior to 2008, when I thought racism was…well, not a thing of the past, but better. It reminds me, loud and clear, that no, we’re not nearly there yet. And that we must not give up until we are.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I couldn't agree more--and sadly, we aren't there yet. Currently, I'm wondering if we ever will be...