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October 28, 2004 - The Arizona Republic (AZ)

Rearing 'Drug-Free' Students Creates 'Truth-Free' Schools

By Ed Montini

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Before we start drug testing seventh-graders I figure we need to administer a little truth serum. To ourselves.

So far, there has not been a lot of credible information in the newspaper about the Paradise Valley Unified School District's proposal to drug test students as young as middle school. I also haven't heard a lot of honest conversation about it on talk radio or seen any reliable segments on local TV. Not from people our age, anyway. Not from grown-ups.

That's funny, because the truth is what we used to be about. Or so we liked to say. It was "the man" who lied. It was "the system" that deceived. It was the "establishment." We weren't going to become a part of that. Not when we came of age. We weren't going to sugarcoat reality for our kids. We were going to be honest.

So, let's be honest: Being a grown-up stinks. Being a parent is a pain.

The truth is, drug testing our kids at school means that there is one less thing we have to worry about at home and that's just fine with us. Plus, it comes with a built-in excuse. We can tell the kids, "What can we do? The U.S. Supreme Court says that it's OK for schools to test students for drugs. Maybe someday that will change. But until then . . . "

That's sort of what happened when we couldn't stop our grade-schoolers from dressing like hookers or thugs and asked the schools to institute dress codes.

It's what we're doing now when we demand that schools teach classes in ethics and morality, because coming down on our own kids about good and evil, right and wrong is like, you know, a bummer.

No wonder our parents never seemed like they were having fun.

Ever since we went from being kids to being moms and dads we've been trying to hand over the parental stuff to "the man," "the system," "the establishment."

We can't even take charge of the TV remote control, asking instead for the federal government to slap big fines on broadcasters who air programs that we shouldn't allow our kids to watch in the first place.

We'd rather sue the fast food chains for making our kids fat than force them to occasionally eat a piece of fruit.

We'd rather buy products made by slave laborers than to pay a little more, have a little less and save the job of some American sap. We want tax cuts and a war - as long as it's a war that only "volunteers" (meaning "not us") have to fight.

We'd rather support a political candidate who tells us that we can have it all and sacrifice nothing than one who tells us, you know, like, the truth.

Because the truth is: Being grown-up stinks and being a parent is a pain.

I know. I've got two kids, one of them in seventh grade. I've actually heard myself say, "I want my children to have some of the things that I didn't have," knowing that in reality it was my way of saying, "I can't tell my kids, 'No.' "

So we ask the schools to tell them. We ask the government. We pretend to be serious when we say that it's more difficult to be a kid today than it was when we were children. Just the opposite is true. It's easier to be a kid now. It's tougher being a parent. That's why we let the TV and the computer baby-sit for us. It's why we let Mickey D's do the cooking. It's why we let schoolteachers do the parenting.

Given all that, maybe the least we can do for our kids is to be honest with them about something like in-school drug testing.

We should tell them that it's not really our way of teaching boys and girls to pass up drugs. It's our way of teaching them how to pass the buck.

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