ROUND-UP: MANDATORY DRUG TESTING IN SCHOOLS
According to an AP story, there's a move in many public schools to test athletes or students involved in extracurricular activities. Private schools have more leeway to set their own policies, though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that schools could conduct random drug testing on middle- and high-school students who participate in competitive extracurricular activities. Following are experts who can discuss mandatory drug testing programs for students:
**1. NEAL MCCLUSKEY, education policy analyst at the CATO INSTITUTE: "The critical issue isn't whether it's right for schools to conduct drug tests, but that having public schools decide on such policies forces parents with differing but legitimate values into constant conflict. Many parents who support drug testing have good health-related reasons for doing so, while many who don't reasonably view such tests as invasions of privacy. Unfortunately, only one side can get its way in any given district. There is, thankfully, a solution. With school choice, parents who want their children tested could select schools that do so, while parents who value privacy could choose schools that do not. Unfortunately, right now, too many people want to impose their will on others, and too few want to let parents choose."
**2. ELDON L. HAM, sports attorney and adjunct professor at the CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW, is a co-founder of Sports is Education, an annual program for school administrators, principals, athletic directors and coaches: "Zero tolerance has a positive effect on athletics and other extra-curricular activities. Students must sign a code, and although it isn't perfect -- nor are the results -- it does seem to curtail the illicit activities. One reason: it gives good kids a good excuse. It may not be cool to say 'no thanks,' but it is cool to say, 'I can't, I'm on the basketball team.'"
**3. NANCY Z. HABLUTZEL, adjunct professor at the CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW: "Students will tell you that the biggest problem with mandatory drug testing programs is that often the drug-involved students are not the ones who go out for extra-curricular activities. As a result, such programs would not test many of the students using drugs. Testing students who are seeking the privilege of participating in optional activities is appropriate and makes sense. I don't agree that testing violates a 'right to privacy,' given that there is no right to use drugs."
**4. SCOTT MCLEOD, J.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of educational policy and administration at the UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: "I am concerned about the recent judicial decisions that have extended suspicion-less drug testing to all students enrolled in extracurricular activities. These court cases, which let schools test students in the Spanish club or chess club for drugs, seem to essentially gut the protections against governmental search that students supposedly possess."
ROUND-UP: BIBLE LITERACY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS (continued)
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**1. STEVE PEHA, president of TEACHING THAT MAKES SENSE, INC.: "If teaching kids about the Bible had anything to do with preparing them more effectively for life, I'd be all for it. But I'd much rather our kids learn to read, write and think, and since there's precious little of that going on these days, I'm not sure how bringing in extremely controversial curriculum solely for the sake of advancing a political agenda is going to do anybody any good in the long run. If we're going make real progress in education reform, adults need to stop using children as pawns in a curriculum-based culture war. Those 300-plus school districts would better serve their communities by improving teaching and administrative leadership."
ROUND-UP: STUDENTS VOLUNTEERING IN GULF COAST RECOVERY (continued)
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**1. KAREN SHULER, professor of business at the CITADEL, uses hurricane relief as a way to teach team-building and organizational leadership to cadets. Before anyone had heard of Hurricane Katrina, she had taken groups of students to field trips in Florida and North Carolina to help flood-ravaged communities clean up. Last fall, she led two trips to the Gulf Coast, bringing supplies and much-needed muscle power to residents of Waveland, Miss., while teaching cadets more about teamwork and leadership than they could ever learning in a classroom.
**1. EDUCATION: COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES FOCUS ON BUILDING THEIR INSTITUTIONAL BRANDS. KATHLEEN (KATHY) DAWLEY, president of MAGUIRE ASSOCIATES, INC., a leading research-based consulting firm focused exclusively on the higher education industry: "Colleges and universities of all kinds are struggling with the problems of shrinking revenues and rising costs. In response to these challenges, and often at the urging of board members, many colleges and universities are focusing on building and managing their institutional brands. An institution's brand is shaped by the sum total of the expectations and promises it sets among a targeted set of constituents --- and by how well it delivers on those promises. As a widely recognized carrier of these positive expectations and promises to all who experience the institution and its offerings, a strong brand is synonymous with a strong, high-performance institution that is better prepared to prosper in challenging times."
**2. EDUCATION: CHILDREN BENEFIT WHEN PARENTS READ TO THEM. CATHY BLOCK, Ph.D., professor of education at TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY: "Research documents the numerous effects of parents reading aloud to their adolescents. Adolescents need parents to read materials like classical literature, poetry, modern genres, and editorials that require advanced understanding of major or abstract concepts. When parents read such texts aloud, they can discuss with their youth their own interpretations of the texts as well as the thought processes they used to reach their interpretations. The level of the book read is not as important as the subject matter being of interest to both the parent and the child. The most important tip is to make the shared reading experience a scheduled, regular part of the week so adolescents can look forward to these uninterrupted moments with texts and their parents."
**3. HISTORY: BLACK HISTORY MONTH -- A HOLIDAY OF ASSESSMENT. PHIL RICHARDS, associate professor at COLGATE UNIVERSITY: "Black History Month could become useful to the American public as the means of understanding the horrifying inequalities that still define African-American life. A frank discussion of black history could provide a site in which politicians would be held accountable for what they have to say about 'black' problems that affect us all. In the end, black people -- by addressing their own pressing concerns -- might open a conversation that extends far beyond the bounds of the so-called black community. Americans could find a ritual of unexpected consensus that speaks to the nation as a whole."