EDITORIAL - Teach, never lie, to students about drugs
February 25, 2005
Just say no. Say no to drugs and, in California, say no to inaccurate messages provided by anti-drug programs in public schools.
An evaluation of Narconon Drug Prevention & Education, a free anti-drug program with ties to the Church of Scientology, revealed inaccurate and unscientific information within the program's curriculum.
After the San Francisco Chronicle reported its flaws, superintendent of public instruction Jack O'Connell launched a full evaluation. The results were released on Wednesday.
Among the errors some teachers reported that Narconon instructors were telling students that the body can sweat out drug residues in saunas and that as drugs exit the body, they produce colored ooze. Another cited blunder was the idea that drug residues stay in body fat, causing people to experience repeated flashbacks and cravings -- a belief reflective of those held by the Church of Scientology.
Has there ever been a more obvious reason to keep religion out of the public school system than this?
Narconon programs have been in at least 39 California school districts since 2000. What took people so long to get rid of this ridiculous program? It took five years for a panel of five medical doctors and nine school health education specialists to conclude that the program "does not reflect accurate, widely accepted medical and scientific evidence."
School officials should have screened the instructors and the content of presentations before these falsehoods got to students.
Could this have happened because the program was free? Perhaps the fact that actual public school teachers would not be responsible for the lessons -- Narconon instructors simply made presentations -- made the program so attractive.
Whatever ridiculous incentive rooted in someone's laziness it was that led to this program's implementation, at least it's finally coming to an end.
There are enough issues with the educational system. Students in California do not need to be told that it is the amount of drugs consumed that determines whether or not they act as sedatives or stimulants, or that drugs ruin creativity and dull the senses.
Before California students are found rushing to the nearest saunas after taking just enough heroin to feel sleepy, O'Connell had better find a suitable program to replace the Narconon one -- one that will teach students the truth about drugs and the dangers of drug abuse, not one affiliated with unfounded beliefs.
Schoolchildren deserve to know the truth, and if we are too afraid to tell them for fear that they can't handle it, the least we can do is give them the facts.