New Jersey school shouldn’t play mommy

Donny Sobnoski

Chalk another one up to schools taking on the responsibilities of today’s parents.

Students at Pequannock Township High School in New Jersey are going to be forced to take urine tests starting this morning to determine if they drank alcohol during the weekend. The test, known as the EtG test, is able to detect alcohol consumption within the last 80 hours.

School officials are claiming that students who test positive will not receive any sort of punishment, only that they will get counseling and that the parents will be notified.

No punishment? I don’t know how Pequannock Township High works, but when I was in high school and played on a sports team, all the student athletes had to sign anti-drug and alcohol policies, saying we would not drink or shoot up, lest we be permanently removed from the team. If this high school does not have that policy, they are in fact encouraging the sports teams to go drink! Heck, they’re not going to get kicked off the team anymore, so what do

they care?

The real issue here is that the school is trying to do the job of the parents. The school should only concern itself with what goes on in its own walls during school time or school-related functions. If a kid goes out to a party on Saturday night, that’s not a school issue.

It’s a parent’s issue.

It is the job of the parents to make sure they raise their children right and educate them on the dangers of alcohol, drugs and the like. The alcohol talk and the sex talk are crucial to the development of a child or young adult. If the school makes its students’ personal life lessons its responsibility, then the kids will not receive the message or give it as much thought as they would if instructed by an authority figure the students respect and love.

Where the message is coming from plays an important role in whether someone listens.

This week it’s alcohol. What’s next on the docket: mandatory AIDS screenings or pregnancy tests for the ladies?

What’s even worse is the fact that the EtG tests don’t even work that well. The urine tests the school is using are typically used in treatment programs for recovering alcoholics. The EtG tests had to be specially re-calibrated for these students to read positive if they had only one drink. Making it that sensitive has made it possible to test positive after using hand sanitizer, mouthwash or consuming any food with vanilla flavoring.

Another critic of the program, other than yours truly, is the American Civil Liberties Union. They think the tests are an invasion of privacy and a breach of trust with students. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey said, “Medical care and treatment are issues between parents and children.” And she’s right.

Each test costs $20 to administer, and the program is funded by a $120,000 federal grant.

Hey New Jersey, instead of literally pissing the money away, why don’t you reinvest it to a school that needs updated textbooks or lab equipment?

I hear Camden Public Schools could use a little help.

Donny Sobnosky is a senior video and film programming major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].