Monday, September 13, 2004


Last week’s articles on the very expensive but very failed drug ed program, D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), yielded a few humorous postscripts:

-- This morning, hauling Maddy to preschool, I had just taken a big gulp from my coffee cup and sighed a big ‘’Ahhhh!’’ when Maddy piped up: ‘’I HEARD ON THE RADIO THAT YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DRINK AND DRIVE!!!’’ That points out one more thing about D.A.R.E.: overkill. Obviously, something was amiss when they were spending hours and hours and HOURS on making a few simple points. Kids are smart. You only have to tell them to stay off booze, drugs and tobacco once or twice, and maintain that expectation, and eureka! They ‘’get it.’’ The constant repetition and information on ways to use substances that characterized D.A.R.E. reminds me of the prophetic movie, ‘’A Clockwork Orange.’’ In it, the authorities supposedly indoctrinated thugs to stay away from violence by showing them lots of movies with lots of violence. What did they make them, instead? Even MORE violent. Because I love kids and know how smart they are, I say D.A.R.E. did the same thing, only it made kids more prone to use and abuse drugs, booze and smokes.

-- A city councilman of a big Nebraska city emailed back an ‘’Amen!’’ to the stats that show how much of a waste of taxpayer dollars D.A.R.E. really was. City government bore much of the expense through funding for police officers, along with schools and federal tax grants. ‘’But weren’t those bumper stickers awesome?’’ he wrote, sarcastically. ‘’Surely they were worth all the millions for the program.’’

-- A school board member in northeast Nebraska suggested that the upcoming Homecoming bonfires could be fueled by the mountains of D.A.R.E. pamphlets brought in by present-day narcotics and alcohol addicts, who all had D.A.R.E. when they were in high school at taxpayer expense, and have the rap sheets and rehab bills to prove it.

-- An Iowan I really admire, Paul Dorr, a homeschooling leader and school reform activist, said that a decade or so ago, he brought one of the big shots behind the philosophy of D.A.R.E., William Coulson, a former colleague of Carl Rogers, around western Iowa on a speaking tour. Coulson had realized how wrong the values-neutral philosophy was, and wanted to warn people against D.A.R.E. The result of Dorr’s efforts? He said the Iowa D.A.R.E. Officers Association and the D.A.R.E. Division Captain of the LAPD did an ‘’intell report’’ on the enemies of D.A.R.E. – Dorr and Coulson. Dorr still has a copy of it.

You know, that’s absolutely amazing, the ‘’kill the messenger’’ approach that so many of our public servants have toward education reform. It makes me sad that law enforcement would stake out those two men for what they were trying to say, instead of examining the program and discovering the obvious, that it didn’t work and just added to the problems, injuries, dangers and crime in society.

Makes you wonder: if educators couldn’t ‘’get it’’ with D.A.R.E., is it possible that they can’t ‘’get it’’ with what’s wrong with ANY curriculum and instruction they might be using, that’s equally ineffective?

Dorr says he also used to call up the Jan Mickelson talk show in Des Moines when he would be discussing the previous night’s action-packed crack house bust by the Des Moines P.D. Dorr would ask, ‘’How many of the officers on last night's bust spent the day before out teaching kids how to get into crack with the D.A.R.E. program?’’

Dorr writes, ‘’That got me an anonymous phone call inquiring as to what my beef was with D.A.R.E. I soon flushed out a staff officer of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. About a year later they busted the chief D.A.R.E. officer of the West Des Moines P.D. for trafficking in drugs and hardcore porn to local school kids. I have several accounts in the file of D.A.R.E. law enforcement officers getting caught peddling drugs by night.’’

There are people who believe the whole point to D.A.R.E. was to give the police a foothold inside schools, which they now, of course, have. It’s hard to believe the purpose was for nefarious exploitation of our captive children, as with corrupt drug-selling police and other less-than-constructive reasons. But why else would such an obviously bad program be propped up and kept going for so many years?

The point is, if it goes on in Iowa, do we think for one minute it doesn’t go on in Nebraska?

Dorr adds a humorous topper: ‘’My kids routinely question D.A.R.E. kids in local parade entries as to what D.A.R.E. means. The top two responses are ‘Drugs Are Really Exciting’ and ‘Drugs Are Really Expensive.’ ‘’

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