It was a good idea when it came up before, and it’s still a good idea.
THE IDEA PUT FORTH last week by Beloit School Board Vice President Nora Gard is not new. It was first proposed in Beloit, years ago, by then-Police Chief Richard Thomas.
He believed there was something to be gained by instituting random drug testing of high school kids. Court rulings allow such testing for young people who voluntarily choose to engage in some extracurricular activity — think, school sports, band, cheerleading and so forth.
Thomas got nowhere, running headlong into a school board that believed such testing was too controversial, too invasive, too upsetting for students and parents.
Now Gard is asking the board to consider the matter again.
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT. In the first place, Gard is not seeking re-election. Lame ducks have no political clout.
Secondly, there’s not a lot of evidence this school board is forward-leaning when it comes to cracking down on bad behavior. When school staffers were asked to voice their concerns to board members at a town hall meeting, the Barkin Arena was filled with tales of disciplinary issues and wishy-washy responses from higher-ups.
Since then the board has been under pressure to respond boldly with policies and practices designed to clean up the mess. Instead, board members mostly have bickered among themselves and engaged in a lot of ineffective hand-wringing.
In that climate Gard’s proposal likely will elicit a resoundingly response of silence.
FOR THE RECORD, we supported Chief Thomas’s call for drug testing many years ago. Likewise, we support Nora Gard’s call now.
It’s tempting to encourage state legislative efforts to mandate random drug tests in Wisconsin. Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, is said to be preparing legislation along those lines. That may be the only way it ever gets done here.
Still, local control is a principle worth defending. Beloit should make this decision.
If the current school board won’t do it, replace them with people who will.
If discipline issues are to be resolved, life as it has been known inside school buildings must change. Random drug tests would be a step in the right direction.