New Age in the Schools: DARE to Look Deeper into Drug Education

Rick Branch

This has been the most difficult and will probably prove to be the most controversial article written to date in this series on New Age in the schools.

It has been difficult to research because of the incredible secretiveness surrounding the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program. Also, because unlike many of the other New Age techniques which have crept into the schools, DARE does not involve visualization, guided imagery, meditation or any type of blatant Occultism.

It will probably prove to be controversial because unlike the other New Age curriculum, DARE is taught by police officers. For that reason, please understand from the outset that this is NOT an attack on the police department!

These men and women are, in many cases, placing their lives on the line on a daily basis. For that, every Christian in America is both grateful and respectful.

The DARE approach is to be commended on several points.

First, it uses police officers as role models which is, no doubt, very helpful to those kids who have no constructive home environment.

Second, it provides a face and a personal touch to that all-to-often stereotyped Police Officer.

Third, it allows most children's first encounter with an officer to be a positive one.

However, while DARE endeavors and succeeds in placing a positive image of the police before students who may not always be of that initial opinion, the DARE officer also carries with them an added responsibility.

Like the school teachers who are trained in Education, the officers are trained in Law Enforcement - neither are trained in Theology. For that reason, when Watchman Fellowship speaks about New Age in the schools, the police are bringing it in as innocently as are the teachers.

In a telephone interview, Officer Tim Henz, Lead DARE Officer on the Arlington Texas police force, was asked about his knowledge of "Affective education or psychotherapeutic techniques."

Officer Henz replied, "I am not familiar with those names or techniques" (Interview 17 August 1992).

Because the police are not trained in these areas, they do not realize the damage they are doing in their honest attempt to help the children of America.

DARE's Rapid Spread

Developed under the direction of the former Los Angeles Chief of Police, Daryl Gates in 1983, DARE has been implemented into every grade level throughout America.

In a Bureau of Justice Assistance Program Brief, it is explained, "The DARE program, which originally targeted fifth and/or sixth grades, was expanded to include a junior high curriculum and lessons for kindergarten through fourth grade" (An Introduction to DARE: Drug Abuse Resistance Education, October 1991, p. 2).

Officer Henz of the Arlington Texas police department explained that the curriculum has now been expanded to all grades, kindergarten through senior high.

In a letter from Gerald P. Regier, Acting Director of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, the widespread influence of DARE can be seen.

Regier states, "At this time, the DARE program is being administered in all fifty states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries. Additionally, the Department of Defense is training students of military personnel in DARE all around Europe" (letter, dated 12 September 1991).

Not only is DARE in all fifty states, but according to Officer Henz DARE is being taught as part of the "core curriculum."

When asked, "Does that mean a student would have a course in DARE the same as in math, physics or chemistry?" Officer Henz replied, "That's right. They receive school credits for taking DARE" (Telephone interview, 17 August 1992).

DARE's Stated Purpose and Methods

According to every police officer to whom this author has ever spoken, DARE's purpose is to keep kids off drugs! To this end, every Christian and most non-Christian parents would agree.

However, what methods does the DARE curriculum use to accomplish this worthy and noble goal?

According to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Implementation Manual, "DARE instructors do not use scare tactics of traditional approaches that focus on the dangers of use. Instead, the instructors work with children to raise their self-esteem, teach them how to make decisions on their own" (Implementing Project DARE: Drug Abuse Resistance Education, June 1988, p. i).

This same manual continues by explaining, "The DARE officer is not a substance abuse counselor and will not be expected to function in that capacity" (Ibid, p. 72).

In a later Bureau of Justice Assistance Program Brief, the methods used in DARE were explained in this fashion.

"┬╝lessons concentrating on techniques for resisting peer pressure, on self-management skills (decision making, values clarification and problem solving), and on alternatives to drug use appeared to have the greatest degree of success" (October 1991, p. 2, parenthesis in original).

Under the heading core curriculum, this Bureau of Justice report explains, "In addition to building refusal skills, the lessons develop self-esteem, risk assessment and decision making skills, interpersonal and communication skills, critical thinking and identification of positive alternatives to negative pressure" (Ibid, p. 7).

This information brings two very important questions to mind. These are the next two sections of this article.

DARE's Values Clarification, Self-Esteem Building

An integral part of DARE's curriculum is its reliance on the Affective Educational approach of Values Clarification and building the child's self-esteem.

Based on the writing of Sidney Simon and Howard Kirschenbaum, Values Clarification is the idea that an adult should never attempt to instruct a child on the ethical correctness of an action.

The real problem enters the educational arena when qualified experts are asked about this approach.

In the Wall Street Journal an article entitled, "Parents, School and Values Clarification" carried some very enlightening information. It explained the practice of Values Clarification which determines the child's decision making skills in this manner.

"Since `by definition and right, values are personal teachings' teachers should never try to teach children correct values. To tell a student stealing is wrong or that kindness and loyalty are good values, would be, according to Values Clarification, to manipulate and coerce a student" (12 April 1982).

What do the experts say about Values Clarification and its effectiveness in education?

"Over the past seven years, nonfundamentalist scholars from major universities - including professors Kenneth A. Strike of Cornell, Alan L. Lockwook of the University of Wisconsin and John S. Stewart, formerly of Michigan State University - have faulted Values Clarification on at least a dozen counts" (Ibid).

Interestingly, no less an authority on Drug education than William J. Bennett, Former Chief, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Former U.S. Secretary of Education, declared, "Values clarification programs in today's classrooms range from the inadequate and impoverished to the intolerable and detestable" (Your Children and Harmful Drug Education, National Monitor of Education).

The Wall Street Journal also provides an interesting decision making scenario.

"By affirming the complete relativity of all values, they in effect equate values with personal tastes and preferences.

"If parents object to their children using pot or engaging in premarital sex, the theory behind Values Clarification make it appropriate for the child to respond, `But that's just your value judgement. Don't force it on me'" (12 April 1982).

It may be asked however, just because DARE is teaching Values Clarification and decision making skills, does that necessitate that their emphasis on self-esteem is also problematic?

In an article entitled "The trouble with self-esteem," the U.S. News and World Report, noted, with reference to the various self-esteem programs, "They offer the light of sunny California optimism at a time of great pessimism.

"They are simple - easily grasped, easily spread. And in public-school systems torn by competing pressure groups, they have no natural enemies. They have only one flaw: They are a terrible idea.

"First of all, despite the firsthand reports of many teachers, there is almost no research evidence that these programs work." (For statistical information on DARE's damage to children, see Doing Damage: DARE verses Drugs elsewhere in this issue).

"Second, the self-esteem movement is on a collision course with the growing movement to revive the schools academically. The self-esteem movement is rooted in the California therapies, which are sunny, feel-good and generally hostile to learning and intellect.

"This is why the obsession with self-esteem ultimately undermines real education" (2 April 1990, p. 16).

Earlier this year, Newsweek magazine carried a multi-page cover story entitled "The Curse of Self-Esteem: What's Wrong with the Feel-Good Movement" (17 February 1992). In this lengthy critique, the authors cited several case studies demonstrating the detrimental effects of such programs.

Thus, the self-esteem curriculum is intellectually harmful in its orientation and the Values Clarification/decision making skills are morally destructive.

Aside from these two problems, it may also be illegal!

According to Richard Baer, Jr., associate professor at Cornell University, "The use of Values Clarification in public schools constitutes a direct violation of First Amendment protection against the establishment of religion, one at least as objectionable as the attempt by some fundamentalists to require the teaching of creationism in the public schools" (Wall Street Journal, 12 April 1982).

If DARE relies so heavily on Values Clarification, which results in teaching children on what they should base their decisions, thereby resulting in uplifted self-esteem, how can DARE tell kids not to abuse drugs?

DARE's Slogan: Keep Kids Off Drugs?

In a glowingly positive review of the DARE program in Alabama, the Huntsville Hometown Press explained, "Don't give the kids a lot of `don'ts,' says the DARE approach.

"`Don'ts' don't get listened to. Give them what they love. Give them theater. Give them sit-coms. Give them laughter.'

"DARE never tells students, `Don't use drugs.' Not once, in the course of seventeen lessons, does the DARE officer ever say, `Don't use drugs.' DARE works on developing the self-esteem that makes it easier to say `no'" (March/April 1988, p. 12).

Strangely, when Officer Henz of the Arlington Texas DARE office was asked about this, he affirmed that the officers do tell the students not to use drugs.

Because the DARE curriculum is so secretive and clandestinely kept under lock and key, the complete answer to this apparent dilemma may never be resolved.

One possible explanation is that as the individual DARE officers provide instruction, they warn against drug abuse. This would certainly explain why the two sources seem to be in conflict.

However, it would seem odd that if DARE is based on Values Clarification, as Officer Henz confirmed during a telephone conversation, that it would also endeavor to explicitly state, don't do drugs. These two ideologies are categorically contradictory.

Perhaps the information from Sergeant Charles Thompson, President of Alabama's DARE officers Association, will help clarify this clouded situation.

In a letter addressed to "All County Sheriffs in the State of Alabama," Thompson requests help in omitting two sections of a legislative bill.

He writes, "These Two Sections, as referenced, would effectively remove DECISION MAKING SKILLS and CRITICAL THINKING as prevention techniques from all currently practiced curriculum.

"On behalf of every DARE Officer across the State of Alabama, we respectfully request that you contact your Legislators and ask them to omit these SECTIONS #3-(2) and #4 from Senate Bill #SB72 and House Bill HB302" (letter undated).

During the investigation, a copy of the bill was acquired. Having read the information contained in the bill it is understandable why Sergeant Thompson of DARE would be so upset.

Senate Bill 72 explains that "Any program or curriculum in the public schools in Alabama that includes drug education or instructions on the use of drugs or alcohol shall, as a minimum, include the following:"

Senate Bill 72, Section 3, paragraph 2 reads, "Information conveying to students that the use of illicit drug and unlawful possession and use of alcohol is wrong and harmful and punishable by fines and imprisonment."

Senate Bill 72, Section 4 reads, "Conduct that is illegal under state or federal law, including but not limited to, illegal use or distribution of controlled substances, under-age alcohol use or distribution, sexual intercourse imposed by means of force, or sexual actions which are otherwise illegal, shall not be encouraged or proposed to public school children in such a manner as to indicate that they have a legitimate right to decide or choose."

It is quite obvious that these two sections are blatantly unacceptable to the very philosophical core of DARE. Thompson is apparently opposed to an abstinence based program which is totally explicit about the legal dangers and ramifications.

DARE does not use "scare tactics." However, SB72 speaks of punishment, fines and imprisonment.

DARE teaches Values Clarification. However, SB72 speaks of things being wrong.

DARE teaches decision making. However, SB72 explains that children have no right to decide or choose certain options.

DARE's Secret Curriculum

Over the past several months, Watchman Fellowship has attempted to obtain copies of the DARE curriculum. But, to no avail!

One Watchman missionary jokingly stated that the DARE curriculum is more closely guarded than the new Mormon Temple ceremony.

Whether it is that covetously protected or not, one cannot say. However it is quite apparent that Watchman Fellowship is not the only organization that has been unable to obtain copies.

In a letter from W.E. Mellown, Jr., Deputy State Superintendent for the Department of Education in the State of Alabama, it is explained, "The State Department of Education does not administer the DARE program and, in fact, has no connection with the program.

"Therefore, we are unable to obtain a copy of the Instructor's Guide for this program" (letter dated 21 August 1991, emphasis mine).

Not only Watchman, not only State Education departments, but even U.S. Congressmen are unable to obtain copies.

Bud Cramer, of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. wrote this shocking statement: "As was stated in earlier correspondence from both Ms. Goldberg to you, and from Ms. Goldberg to my office, we are apparently unable to obtain a copy of the DARE manual for either your scrutiny or even my information" (letter dated 24 February 1992, emphasis mine).

DARE's Federal Funding

Despite the fact that DARE teaches Values Clarification, which according to Richard Baer, Jr., "constitutes a direct violation of (the) First Amendment" (Wall Street Journal, 12 April 1982), and despite the fact that local, state and even federal government officials cannot obtain a copy of the DARE curriculum, ┬ż the federal government continues to provide millions of dollars in funding.

In a letter from Dorthy Everett, of the U.S. Department of Justice, "The DARE Program was adopted for funding by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in 1986

"I did not see, nor do I have a way of finding out what the program contained that was presented to the Department of Education for funding consideration" (letter dated 26 July 1991).

Since that time, the DARE program has grown in size and funding. According to a letter from Johanna Goldberg, DARE Coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District, "These procedures are followed by the five federally funded training centers as well as state training centers" (letter dated 13 January 1992).

Finally on 7 May of this year, a bill was submitted by Wisconsin Senator Robert W. Kasten which would have substantial significance for DARE's federal funding.

According to a Press Release "Kasten's bill (Senate Bill 2678) would increase federal funding available to D.A.R.E. programs by $50 million in fiscal year 1992" (Kasten News press release).

Is teaching the children of America Values Clarification, decision making skills and self-esteem, all under the guise of drug prevention really the best way to spend $50 million?

Conclusion On Project DARE

While there are beneficial attributes of DARE, the question begs to be asked, Do the benefits outweigh the detrimental affects?

Do Christian parents want their children being taught Values Clarification?

Do Christian parents wish their children to be instructed in methods whereby they can make their own decisions as to what is right and wrong - irregardless of parental ethics?

Do Christians want their children taught programs that statistically have been proven questionable at best and destructive at worst?

While all Christian parents are supportive of the police officers' attempts to keep kids from drug abuse, would it not be advisable to dig a little deeper, search a little harder and ask a few more questions?

In this brief article (yes, it has been brief compared to all the material gathered on DARE), what then is the Christian response to be?

Just as when a parent finds their child is being taught Quest, DUSO the Dolphin, Pumsy the Dragon or any of the other Affective Education/New Age curricula, begin by becoming informed.

Next, go through the appropriate channels in an appropriate Christian spirit, and share the concerns and documentation listed.

Finally, since DARE is a federally funded program, the Hatch Amendment, is applicable. This Federal bill explains, "For the purpose of this action, `research or experimentation programs or projects' means any program or project in any applicable program designed to explore or develop new or unproved teaching methods or techniques" (Federal Register, Vol. 49, No. 174, p. 35318, 6 September 1984, emphasis mine).

The Values Clarification and self-esteem approaches have certainly not been proven and in fact have been repeatedly shown to be harmful!

The Hatch Amendment continues by explaining that students should not be subjected to "psychiatric or psychological treatment" without prior parental consent.

How does this Federal bill define psychiatric or psychological treatment?

"`Psychiatric or psychological treatment' means an activity involving the planned, systematic use of methods or techniques that are not directly related to academic instruction and that is designed to affect behavioral, emotional, or attitudinal characteristics of an individual or group" (Ibid, p. 35321).

If the school will not listen to objections by concerned parents, there is a legal recourse.

Remember, as Christian parents, God gave each family their children to love, serve and protect.

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