How very sad and disturbing to see progressive Oak Park giving into fear and anxiety. Do we really want to go down the road of drug-sniffing dogs, a closed campus, drug testing and generally fear-based strategies for addressing drug issues [Testing, canines draw support at drug forum, News, Dec. 15]? I see about 60 parents who seem to be supporting these ideas, and I hope our school administration recognizes that Oak Park and River Forest High School is a community of more than 3,000, and some of us are very upset about these ideas.

Do we have no confidence in our children or in our relationships with our children? In my mind, pretending to do something about a problem, or doing hurtful things, is worse than not doing anything at all. I really hope we are more thoughtful than that. I know our kids are. These proposed strategies do not address what we know about teenage drug use, and, I believe, violate our children’s constitutional rights, which is, in my mind, never a good idea.

We know some of the things that will help our kids stay away from drugs. We know that parent involvement can make a big difference. We know that we should be listening to our children and talking to our children. We also know that some children may develop problems despite our best efforts, and we should want to understand why that is before we implement strategies that may be part of the problem rather than the solution. We should be watching films like “Race to Nowhere” and thinking seriously about what it tells us about the kind of stress many of our children are experiencing.

We also know that dogs make lots of mistakes, and have been found by at least some school districts to be costly and ineffective. This article from the American Civil Liberties Union makes the point well:

Closing the campus will punish all of our kids, mostly good kids. The same issue of the Wednesday Journal that discussed drug sniffing dogs celebrated “Teach Me How to Huskie” [Huskie flash dance fever, Inside Report, Dec. 22]. Our kids are smart and creative; they are hard workers and good friends. They deserve better from us and I hope we don’t let them down.

Ruth Lazarus
Oak Park

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