The Supreme Court OK'd random drug tests for students involved in extra-curricular activities. The court's reasoning is preposterous. "We find that testing students who participate in extracurricular activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school district's legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring and detecting drug use," Justice Clarence Thomas said in his majority opinion. However, it seems that students who are in the Quiz Bowl team (as the plaintiff in this case was) and the Mock Trial team aren't the people likely to be shooting up after school in the school parking lot. Even if they are, why does it matter? The students are still able to function well enough to participate in these after-school activities. The court's reasoning is so broad that it will allow the school to randomly test any student, not just the treasurer of the Spanish Club, without any suspicion of drug use.
The arguments presented by the plaintiff, however, were equally bad and disturbing. They argued that the schools violated the students' right to privacy. The school has a right to do as it wishes with the students as long as it explicitly tells them beforehand. We can argue about the desirability later, but the rights question is an open and shut case in favor of the school. The fact that this is a public school is a problem in and of itself for many reasons. However, the Supreme Court has held in the past that Constitutional rights of students are not protected inside the school. The policy is problematic for other reasons besides the rights issue.
The school has no vested interest in preventing drug use by its students. The role of a school is to teach students chemistry, physics, math, english, history, etc. The school shouldn't care if the kids are shooting up after school. That's the job of the parents. I also see little problem with a kid smoking up on occasion. If he is doing his work and not disturbing other kids in school, then what's the harm? However, the schools are just another arm of the American drug war monster. If they admit that someone can be using pot on occasion and not have it affect their ability to function as capable members of society, then they will have to abandon the lies they have been teaching to students in school over the past 20 years. Marijuana is not a gateway drug. Or at least, no more than cigarettes, alcohol, or gambling are. The government should stop using the schools for their social engineering plans. Instead, students should be taught the essentials they need to live in this world. The schools should concentrate on teaching that instead of spreading lies about illegal drug use.
Some argue that there is no harm done for the schools to help the government in fighting the war on drugs. However, zero tolerance and other policies in schools (such as handing the offending students over to law enforcement authorities) present problems for society. Most students in school believe that it's not that bad to smoke marijuana. Upwards of 30% of American teens have tried marijuana at least once in their life. Making something as common, benign, and lacking in external harms as marijuana consumption illegal has created an attitude of distrust and hatred for the government and law in general. A proclivity towards lawlessness is precursor to the breakdown of the Rule of Law. When schools enforce ridiculous drug rules such as random drug tests and automatic expulsion for anyone with high levels of THC, school officials, teachers, and figure of authority become suspect and objects of ridicule and distrust.