State of the Union adresses school issues

    Amid calls for continued support of war and tax relief, President George W. Bush introduced several alarming social proposals in his State of the Union Address that would have a detrimental effect on the nation’s youth.

    Bush outlined proposals to grant $23 million worth of incentives to schools that drug-test students and to double funding for abstinence education programs. While the proposals address several problems to which youth are undeniably susceptible, they are somewhat misguided and foster a naïvete that could prevent their effectiveness.

    Bush highlighted budget funding of community-based drug prevention strategies as a cause of recent improvement in illegal drug use statistics among youths. Funding communities that will tackle drug abuse in a responsible manner is the right way to address a problem that is rooted in a young person’s community.

    Granting incentives to schools that offer after-school programs or “”community-based,”” comprehensive drug education (not just the rhetoric of such failed programs as D.A.R.E.) would prove a more effective method of eliminating drug abuse in young people than random drug testing.

    Likewise, while abstinence may be the only certain way to prevent sexually transmitted disease ‹ just as refraining from driving is the only certain way to prevent a car accident ‹ to favor an abstinence approach over comprehensive education about contraception ignores the fact that teenagers have sex and need to understand both the consequences of their actions and the precautions they must take to prevent disease and unwanted pregnancy.

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