The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is seeking to end an annual state appropriation of $376,362 for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, the Associated Press reports. Officials say they want to drop DARE to save money and because national studies show it is ineffective. “There are more critical services that are directly tied to our mission to prevent, investigate and solve crimes,” said a spokeswoman.
The national DARE organization disputes the studies, saying they are outdated and the program has changed to make it more effective. DARE’s regional director predicted that losing state support would eventually kill the program in Florida. Started in Los Angeles 24 years ago, DARE sends police into middle school classrooms in 75 percent of the nation’s school districts, including 60 of Florida’s 67. Gov. Charlie Crist said DARE is “very popular and I’ve been active in it in the past and I believe in it. If there’s any way that we can find to keep it, we certainly would love to do it.” A 2003 U.S. Government Accountability Office analysis of several DARE studies concluded the program had “no statistically significant long-term effect on preventing illicit drug use.” The U.S. Department of Education and surgeon general also have found DARE to be ineffective. That has led school districts in some states, including Illinois, California, Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin, to discontinue DARE.