Campus drug testing:College student leaders and...

Newswatch ...on education

May 20, 1991

Campus drug testing:

College student leaders and substance-abuse specialists are calling random testing of students a bad, and costly, way to combat drug abuse on campus.

"The solution to our nation's drug problem in our colleges proposed by [Virginia] Gov. L. Douglas Wilder is an absolutely ridiculous, short-lived, simplistic answer to a problem which is far more complex than he realizes," said Aaron R. Kwittken, president of the George Washington University Interfraternity Council, who testified on Capitol Hill last week.

The hearing before the House Republican Research Committee Task Force on Drugs came two months after highly publicized drug raids at three University of Virginia fraternities that led to the arrests of a dozen students on drug charges. Wilder appointed a task force to study drug abuse at state colleges and said he wouldn't object if it recommended mandatory drug testing for students.

Trish Martin, coordinator of Johns Hopkins University's substance-abuse programs, said mandatory, random testing of college students "would be cost prohibitive. That's an instance in which the money would be much better spent in prevention."

Profit-making schools:

The creator of a classroom news show with advertisements announced plans today to set up a network of 200 profit-making schools at a cost of more than $2.5 billion.

"It is a private effort with a public mission," said Chris Whittle, chairman of Whittle Communications.

He said the first phase of the project would be a laboratory outside Knoxville, Tenn., where the company is based, to which he expects to attract about 100 educators, political leaders and scientists.

They would spend two to three years designing a model school for the next century, Whittle said. The cost of this phase, estimated at $60 million, would be paid by the partners who currently make up Whittle Communications.

Whittle said the next phase, for which $2.5 billion to $3 billion in outside capital would be needed, would consist of the establishment of schools in all 50 states.

He said the first schools would open in 1996, beginning with pre-kindergarten day care for children as young as a year old and extending through the sixth grade. The upper grades will be phased in one at a time, he said. A professor of leisure could have a lot of free time on his hands if Western Illinois University administrators take the recommendation of a faculty committee and fire him for taking things a little too easy.

The committee accused George R. Harker of skipping final exams, summer classes and meetings with administrators. He was also accused of unprofessional conduct for allegedly discussing in class the effort to fire him.

WIU President Ralph Wagoner was to make a recommendation to the Board of Governors of State Colleges and Universities, which could decide as early as next month if Harker should be fired from his $4,000-a-month job.

Harker, 47, has said he is the victim of a conspiracy by colleagues who covet his position teaching the concepts and philosophy of leisure and who are jealous of his status as a nationally known expert on nude beaches. He has testified in legal challenges of laws banning nude sunbathing in New York, Florida and Hawaii.

Janitors speak at graduation:

The senior class at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, N.H., will hear from two old friends at graduation in June: the school's custodians.

Bob Rivera and Peter Yates have accepted speaking invitations from the seniors, who made their request because the two have participated in school programs and are considered friends, said the class president, Shannon Stickney.

"The feeling is mutual. It really goes very deep -- we're like a family," said Rivera, 36. "Considering the truly magnificent faculty at the high school that they could have chosen from for speakers, this will really be quite an honor."

Rivera and Yates, 33, are known not only for joining in school projects but also for special touches, such as stuffing balloons in the lockers of new students.

For the record:

Faculty members at California State University-Northridge, in suburban Los Angeles, have voted overwhelmingly against having a committee mediate complaints stemming from classroom comments that might be considered racist or harassing. The Faculty Senate voted 43-12 last week against the proposed policy, after debating whether it would restrict free speech or protect minority members and others from offensive language. . . . Nineteen teachers at a Washington, D.C., elementary school walked out on their classes last week to protest the lack of air conditioning in the building. Administrators and teaching assistants took over the classes at the Benning Elementary School in 87-degree heat.

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