The Mix

Just two questions

Does testing high schoolers for drugs make them do more drugs? Does being on the list of potential terrorist targets insure you'll be visited by terrorists?
If your child became an adolescent or teenager in the past two years, you can thank the Supreme Court and George W. Bush for the fact that your child has now taken thousands of more tests than ever before. Kids aren't just taking more written tests, although they are doing that (from Kindergarten on up, "No Child Left Behind" means every child tested within an inch of its life), they're also more than four times as likely as they were two years ago to take a drug test.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that random testing of student athletes and others in competitive extracurricular activities did not violate the students' privacy rights, the Bush administration has made testing middle- and high-school students a priority. In the 2005-06 school year, 373 public secondary schools got federal money for testing, up from 79 schools two years ago. And Bush has asked Congress to further increase the amount for drug testing, up to $15 million dollars in 2007. Some schools just test those involved in athletics, or school clubs. Others, such as the Nettle Creek School District in Indiana, want to randomly test all students.

Is any of this causing teenagers to uses less drugs? The results are confidential, and it seems like a lot of money to spend for something that no one knows if it works at all. Besides, even if teenagers are using less drugs during school hours, testing kids, and then "failing" those who test positive, is a pretty dumb way to get kids to engage in less risky behavior.

Risky behavior, according to the New York Times and the Department of Homeland Security, includes such things as going to the petting zoo in Woodland, Alabama and attending the Apple and Pork Festival in Clinton, Illinois. I could see how anything with the words Clinton and Pork in it could get some people riled up, but the petting zoo seems rather tame and the Mule Day Parade in Tennessee looks very charming. I guess I'm confused by the logic. If the Times leaking the story that the Feds are collecting bank records could get the Bush administration all up in arms that we're giving something away to terrorists, wouldn't leaking the location of the Apple and Pork Festival be just as harmful, if not more so? The stories, point, of course, is that the list needs to be updated and that, based on the current target list, those red and amber alerts mean as little as you suspected they did. Still, I think the real problem is that the Mule Day Parade could get a lot more crowded this coming year. After all, who wouldn't drive a ways for a chance to look at a genuine terrorist target? Perhaps they can institute random drug testing at the entrance to keep us all safe.
Rachel Neumann is Rights & Liberties Editor at AlterNet.
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