On a daily basis, it is impossible to read all the education blogs—there are literally hundreds of them. So, I make no attempt to cover the waterfront, and limit my reading to a handful of blogs.
Nationally, I’m really into Gotham Schools and the Educated Reporter. Locally, I check in regularly with the Education Matters blog at "Bethesda Magazine," as well as the various Washington Post education reporters who now write blog entries almost daily.
Writing about one of county schools Superintendent Joshua Starr's “Listen and Learn” events, blogger Julie Rasicot described the following exchange between Montogmery County Public School students and the superintendent's staff: “One student said she’d noticed an increase in drug use at school, and sometimes saw students with drugs in the hallways. Starr reassured her that things may not be as bad as they seem. 'Student drug use and student violence are lower now than in many, many years,' he said. 'While we have drug issues and alcohol issues, you guys are actually much better behaved.'
So, how bad are things?
Believe or it not there is student self-reported survey data on the sale of illegal drugs on school property. You can access the Maryland data by clicking here. In a spring 2009 survey, 29.3 percent of the Maryland high schoolers surveyed said they had been offered, sold or given an illegal drug by someone on school property.
There are no separate MCPS survey data, only statewide figures. However, MCPS students participated in Maryland’s statewide administration of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. They also participated in 2005, 2007 and 2011. The 2011 survey data are not yet available. And that 29.3 percent in 2009 did not really change from the earlier survey administration time points. In 2005 it stood at 28 percent. In 2007, it stood at 27 percent.
So, 29.3 percent seems like a high and serious number to me. It certainly is the kind of number that might make high schoolers walking their school hallways take notice of drug sales. So, again, I ask, how bad are things? Perhaps worse than what Superintendent Starr believes and thinks.
And by the way, MCPS could solve its knowledge gap on the drug issue, and other teen risk behaviors such as suicide and sexual practices, by simply committing to its own countywide administration of CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Click here to read my July 16 blog about how the Fairfax County Public Schools address these issues.