Well, I’d Have Been Thrown The Hell Out of High School For Sure

If these kinds of rules were in effect way back when:

For two decades, many schools have set zero-tolerance policies on
drugs. That means no over-the-counter drugs, no prescription drugs, no
pretend drugs in student lockers or pockets. When many teens have ready
access to medicine cabinets filled with prescription medications such
as Xanax and Vicodin, any capsule or tablet is suspect.

Still,
some parents and civil rights advocates say enforcement has been
overzealous. Stringent rules have ensnared not only drug dealers and
abusers, but a host of sniffling and headachy students seeking quick
medical relief. The Supreme Court will consider this month the case of
a 13-year-old Arizona student who was strip-searched in 2003 by an
administrator who suspected that she was carrying ibuprofen pills.

Fairfax
School Board members have debated over time whether to allow students
to carry Tylenol or other over-the-counter medicines without
registering them with the school nurse. County policy permits cough
drops to be carried on campus, for instance, but not shared. Arlington
County policies permit high school students to carry over-the-counter
pain relievers. A 2006 state law in Maryland overturned some local
rules requiring a doctor’s note for children to use sunscreen at school.

In
Virginia, school systems must comply with state code regarding
prescription medications and illegal drugs on campus. Students face
expulsion if they bring to school any “controlled substance” or
addictive drug regulated by the federal government. “Imitation
controlled substances,” which could include virtually any prescription
pill, are subject to the same hefty repercussions. Local school boards
can give a lighter punishment after a review.

In Maryland,
school systems have more leeway to set their own drug policies. In the
District, prescription medications should be confiscated if they are
brought to school without a doctor’s order, Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman
for the school system, wrote in an e-mail.

Health advocates say that harsh penalties for students who take
birth-control pills at school conflicts with a campaign schools are
waging against teen pregnancy.

A small portion of school health
clinics across the country distribute birth-control pills to teens. But
in Fairfax, even carrying the pills in a backpack is counted among the
most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights
handbook.

During two weeks of watching television game shows and
trying to keep up with homework online, the Fairfax teen, an honor
student and lettered athlete, had time to study the handbook closely.
If she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug, she
found, she would have been suspended for five days. Taking her
prescribed birth-control pill on campus drew the same punishment as
bringing a gun to school would have.

Okay, so forget birth control for a minute? No ibuprofen? SO much better to have debilitating muscle or headache pain while taking tests, yeah. No sharing COUGH DROPS? Does this do anything but encourage clandestine use of EVERY drug, making it much harder to spot the illegal ones? Not to mention put kids through the unnecessary hassle of taking time out of class to go to the nurse (who in my high school worked a half-day on Tuesdays, so good luck if you got sick any other time) and beg for an aspirin?

This kind of stuff makes me so crazy, and I KNOW, okay, I know about the anecdote about the doctor’s kid selling Vicodin in the parking lot, and I KNOW my inability to understand treating teenagers like criminals is the inevitable byproduct of my not having them myself, but I was one before mandatory strip-searching for decongestants came about and I can’t say the real problem with my classmates was rampant and illegal abuse of Tylenol.

The real problem was the boy everybody knew was doing coke in the bathroom during lunch hour, who these kinds of rules would have done nothing to help.

A.

14 thoughts on “Well, I’d Have Been Thrown The Hell Out of High School For Sure

  1. Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Luden’s Cough Drops, Hall’s Mentholyptus (yeah, like the stink off those isn’t a dead giveaway), Midol … 4-Way Decongestant/Anthihistamine Spray, my car keys, a wad of mixed change, and a pocketknife. (No kidding, a little Schrade Old-Timer with two blades, the big one 1 7/8″ long).
    Yeah, they’d a thrown me in the jail if I’d been in school now.
    This zero tolerance crap is so, so, so out of hand.
    And you know what? It still doesn’t stop the cokehead doing lines in the boys’ room at lunch.

  2. I blame modern parents for having crappy risk assessment skills.
    Driving kills 50% more people than illicit drug use each year yet parents still drop their little dears off at Happy Times Middle School in the family sedan. Get ahold of yourself Generation Fascist. And make the little buggers walk to school. Inactivity kills 300% more people than alcohol and drugs (legal and illicit) combined.

  3. A country fueled on fear, has turned the schools into prisons. I can’t imagine what would happen if the wingnuts got their way and a family had to choose between a variety of private schools run by who-knows-who.
    My old school had windows that went up and down, a wood shop full of killer tools, an electrical shop with 440v AC to play with, a chemistry lab and an open lunch hour. It was condemned when I was in eighth grade (7-12 all attended school together) and we roamed around town going to class wherever there was a spare room. It was incredible!
    Of course the new school was a Johnson – Nixon era design, the prototype of what was to come, and had tall, thin windows, forbidding entries and all the facilities for cameras, fencing and the move to the modern era. That may have been the most miserable two years of my life. I had never skipped a day until my junior year and finally couldn’t take the stress any longer and took a day “off”.
    The funny thing is that the modern school drives students away from furthering their education. Not sure if this was the intent, but it certainly seems to be the result.

  4. I am so glad that my daughter is now in college and no longer in high school. She used to carry ibuprofen all the time, and, at the girls’ high school she attended, she was often sharing it with other girls who were suffering from debilitating cramps. Oh, yeah, and if any of them went to the nurse for any kind of relief, the nurse wasn’t even allowed to give them tylenol.
    If she’d been subject to those kind of ridiculous rules, I would have fought them all the way to the Supreme Court. What a load of horseshit.

  5. America’s children are guilty until proven guilty, then they’re REALLY guilty.
    What kind of message are we sending to our children? What kind of message are we sending about ourselves? “We have no faith in our ability to teach you right from wrong; we have no faith in our ability to raise you right; we are irresponsible immature losers so instead of punishing ourselves for our obvious inadequacies, we will punish you. Mercilessly. We will treat you as criminals from the moment you get up in the morning until you go to sleep at night. Original sin is the very least of it. You’re evil and stupid and bound for jail, so we might as well start now.”
    America hates her children.

  6. Ibuprofen and birth control pills are just the most common stuff that triggers zero-tolerance (which sounds *so* much nicer than “INtolerance”, doesn’t it?)
    Try having an insulin-dependent diabetic kid in school. Now, there is a tiny amount more “sense” applied when invoking zero-tolerance would be life-threatening.
    Which is good, because I suspect that some parents reaction to having zero-tolerance applied to their diabetic kid would be to remove the offending school admins pancreas without anesthetic, just to see how much THEY enjoy the lack of essential biochemicals.
    The others, of course, would be filing multi-million dollar lawsuits.

  7. I am an expert on school drug policies and have been begging school districts for years to think carefully before assessing heavy penalties on students for possession of non-narcotic drugs. Part of the problem is the penchant for public relations: no school wants to appear “soft on drugs.”
    On the other hand, it can be dangerous for students to share over-the-counter products because of allergies, or medication interactions.
    What I recommend is requiring the student to meet with the counselor and a meeting with parent(s) to explain the policy and its implications. Suspension has no educational value and should only be used for dangerous or repetitious offenses.

  8. I went to a hippie school, in large part to avoid that kind of BS; when I tried to visit my public high school, they gave me the runaround (“liability”) until I wrote an editorial in the local paper about it. That changed their mind.
    This is my favorite part:
    “Most people would not know the difference between birth control or some Ritalin or Tylenol or codeine,” said Clarence Jones, coordinator for the Fairfax school system’s safe and drug-free youth program. “If they are just pulling something out of their pockets and sticking it in their mouths, we don’t know what they are taking.”
    Well, at least they don’t trust the good sense of anyone at the school, much less teens!
    I get that schools want to be careful about drugs, even prescription drugs; one kid innocently gives something to another kid, something goes wrong, and it could be a nightmare. So they want nurses to administer it – paranoid and probably not the most effective solution, but I get it.
    But this specific issue in Fairfax (“even carrying the pills in a backpack is counted among the most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights handbook”) just seems like fear of fucking.

  9. So over the top.
    At the same time, schools are trying to save money by decreasing the numbers of school nurses. So who is gonna hold your aspirins for you?
    I can easily see that drugs that have a high potential for abuse need to be under control.
    I could possibly see questioning why one would neec to bring some pills to school – if you only take one a day on schedule, why do you need them with you at school where they may be a distraction. But OTC analgesics – do you plan your headaches? And don’t you take them 4 times a day and therefore need them at school.

  10. Dumb question;
    if the aspirin – toting druggie is thrown out of school, what does that say about the priority we place on education?

  11. Thanks for the expert commentary, Isabel. I agree–this is sort of like the incarceration debate Webb has finally tackled: nobody wants to say they were the guy who let Willie Horton go, and nobody wants to be the guy who let the kid have drugs in school that led to his death.
    That said, I’m a little bit baffled by the concern over sharing over-the-counter drugs. If this is a serious issue, why on earth aren’t we talking about it *outside* of schools? Adults share OTCs all the time, and I don’t hear anybody raising a major health concern about it.
    My brother would have been screwed in this environment. As a serious asthmatic, with major allergies, he had meds with him all the time. How on earth do schools deal with those situations? Honestly, it seems like this is just a huge amount of work for microscopic gains.

  12. I always thought these hysterical drug clamp-downs were amusing, especially with the icing on the cake: somehow athletes were never caught up in these little inconveniences. Or any others, now that I think of it. At least at the schools my children attended. Zero tolerance, my aspirin.

  13. They call that education? Teaching students that adults in authority are incapable of exercising judgment and believe that obedience to inflexible and apparently arbitrary rules is more important than educating them, or training them how to grow up to use good judgment and make good decisions and laws in a civil society?
    There are so many practical reasons why such policies are stupid, but the pedagogical ones are even more powerful.

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