Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Are more Texas kids using drugs, or are more schools spending resources trying to catch them?

The Texas Education Agency reports double digit annual increases in student discipline for drug offenses in North Texas counties, but no one knows whether that means more kids are doing drugs or if schools are just disciplining more frequently for it. Reported the Dallas News: ("More Texas students are getting in trouble for drugs," Jan. 26):

In the Texas Education Agency region that includes Dallas, Collin and Rockwall counties, the number of incidents in which students were disciplined for drug infractions rose 13 percent between 2005-06 and 2006-07, according to data compiled by the TEA.

And in the TEA region that includes Denton, Tarrant and Wise counties, the number of incidents rose 50 percent over the same period. the TEA will compile data for the current school year by December.

Statewide, the number of reported nonfelony incidents increased 10 percent over the same period. Felony-level offenses, such as heroin possession, jumped 38 percent statewide, an increase officials speculated was due at least in part to the spread of cheese heroin in Dallas-area schools.

The figures, which the TEA got from school districts, include any drug-related activity that resulted in discipline, from suspensions to arrests. The data include misdemeanors and felonies but don't reveal which drugs were involved.

Some districts saw increases so dramatic that they can only be explained by changes in district enforcement, not student behavior:

The Fort Worth school system had the biggest increase in reported incidents among large districts, with the numbers nearly tripling from 132 to 381 from 2005-06 to 2006-07. In the Houston school district, the state's largest, reported incidents dropped from 1,074 to 914.

Administrators in Fort Worth couldn't explain the rise.

"We can't attribute it to anything other than we caught more people," said Clint Bond, Fort Worth school district spokesman. "There are spikes in different categories from year to year. I can't say there's an increase in drug use but just that we caught more people."

It's hard to tell what to make of these numbers, especially when the aggregate stat is broken down by school district. I don't necessarily believe that drug use by Houston students declined or that in Fort Worth it tripled. Instead, these numbers likely represent changes in enforcement patterns or tactics at certain districts like Fort Worth; you catch more fish with a net than a pole, after all. And some Texas school districts appear to be casting the net more and more widely every year.


Anonymous said...

Excellent question, but I think you already know the answer. It is most likely a little of both, but I have a feeling it is the schools spending more resources on enforcement that is changing the numbers. Drugs are still as easy to get as ever (maybe easier). So much for the "war on drugs".

Anonymous said...

Does all this have an effect on people quitting school and people opting for home schooling, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

What's the high school drop out rate in Texas look like these days?

Better or worse than in the past?

JT Barrie said...

Do they count the increasing number of kids using Cocaine [Ritalin] and Adderall [amphetamines] in drug use statistics? More kids are being medicated to improve discipline problems with street drug equivalents. I would say that chronic drug use and drug dependency [if you use these equivalents to control behavior the user is dependent on these drugs - not addicted. And because the use is indefinite it is a drug dependency] is definitely on the rise. Of course the media won't even touch these frightening statistics because it unravels the blatant hypocrisy of the drug war.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous at 7:36 pm 1/29

I don't have statistics at hand re/ drop out rates. I've seen brags saying it's way down. I have some "inside dope" that says some school districts at least camouflage their drops outs to make them appear as transfers.

And I'm signing this one anonymous to protect the innocent.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anonymous at 8:35 AM.

From observation, I'm sensing that something is going on that, in spite of what the system may be calling it, transfers or whatever, these kids are dropping out or opting out of the public school system without graduating at higher rates than in the past twenty or thirty years.

I think some of them are feeling oppressed by the intolerant and criminally punitive systems in place now beyond bearing.

Perhaps I can try finding statistics on how many children go into the system and actually how many come out with a diploma.

I think, like you said, that they're covering it up by calling it something else.

In one search that I did, I found one site that suggested that although it appeared that more kids were dropping out... it was really because so many of them, especially black and Hispanic students, were, in fact, being incarcerated.

That's just sickening.

It's a fearful, cowardly, exclusionary, and cruel world we've made for young people today.