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Editor’s NotebookEditor's Notebook: The ol' school-drugs lather/rinse/repeat cycle

Editor’s Notebook: The ol’ school-drugs lather/rinse/repeat cycle

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We take the wayback machine not so far back (at least by my reckoning) to a mid-March 1989 edition of the Northern Virginia Sun.

The paper reported that the Fairfax County school system and police have announced plans to launch a “war on drugs” in schools. Among the facets will include locker searches, metal detectors, drug-sniffing dogs and even, wait for it, breathalyzers.

Ever since the groovy 1960s, school leaders had been engaged in an ongoing cycle of drug policy in Northern Virginia. First would be draconian crackdowns within the schools after things had gotten out of hand. Then parents would complain because the crackdowns became too draconian and their precious little darlings suddenly found themselves swept up in it and facing the consequences (can’t have that!), so officials would back off. Then things would get out of hand again, so another crackdown ensued. Lather, rinse, repeat for going on 55 years now.

[Semi-related: Have the doors on the stalls in the student bathrooms at Yorktown High School ever come back? I tell you: If I’d been forced to spend my high-school career having to drop a boom-boom in full view of my classmates, all because some of those classmates couldn’t hold on until they got home to engage in their drug cravings or other nefarious activities, I’d be one pissed-off toilet-sitter.]


We currently seem to be in a phase of easing the drug/alcohol enforcement at local schools, just as we are in a phase of not holding people accountable for much of anything. But the cycle will simply repeat itself; the situation will get so out of control, owing to the hands-off policies, that harsher efforts will need to be taken to rid schools of the drugs and those who push them.

There is nothing new under the sun, even if some people don’t realize it.

  • Scott McCaffrey
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