President Bush’s call for a tenfold increase in federal funds for drug testing at schools, to $25 million each year, may encourage schools to conduct random tests, says Gannett News Service. More schools are likely to apply for aid if Congress approves Bush’s plan, says Julie Underwood of the National School Boards Association. The cost has deterred some districts. “When you are trying to choose between drug testing and buying textbooks, many schools choose textbooks,” she says.
A study by University of Michigan researchers, in the April 2003 Journal of School Health estimated that nearly one in five of secondary schools used some form of drug testing. Most schools do not conduct random screenings and test only when they have evidence or suspicions of drug use. Last year, the federal government had $2 million to help school districts pay for random testing, says Brian Blake of the White House Office of National Drug Policy Control. Eight states received grants.
Opponents say there is little evidence that testing deters drug use. Legal battles continue on wehther random testing infringes on student privacy. The Supreme Court gave schools wider drug-testing powers in 2002, approving by a 5-4 vote random testing of high school students involved in competitive extracurricular activities. Lawsuits challenging other drug tests in schools have been filed in Arkansas, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, says the Drug Policy Alliance, which opposes testing.