The Drug Abuse Resistance Education program is reinventing itself after years of being dropped by schools and police departments struggling with stretched financial budgets, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. To prove its relevance, DARE has added lessons about online safety, bullying, choosing good role models, and other current topics. It also is teaming up for certain subjects with experts from the community – not just police – to save cities and schools money.
“Minnesota is a very progressive state,” said Kathi Ackerman of Minnesota DARE. “In a recession – you need to think outside the box and utilize whatever you have.” The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district – the fourth largest in Minnesota – eliminated D.A.R.E. this year to help reduce its budget. The Hastings district also dropped it for a year to test its effectiveness and consider alternative options.St. Paul and Minneapolis abandoned the program years ago. “We can’t prove for sure that it is helping,” said Superintendent Tim Collins of Hastings schools. “So then why spend the time and energy on the program?” The Minnesota Education Department’s latest Student Surveys in 2007 and 2004, showed drug and alcohol use in the past year among sixth-, ninth- and 12th-graders in the metro area steadily increased from 3 percent of sixth-graders to at least 29 percent of 12th-graders.