06 April, 2009

School Drugs

A total of 72% of Anguillian High School students feel that illegal drug use at school is a “serious” to “very serious” problem. That is the conclusion of the 2009 Report from the Task Force on School Violence. The Report was published at page 3 of the 27 March 2009 issue of The Anguillian Newspaper.

Anguilla has one secondary school: The Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School. So, we are simultaneously speaking about one secondary school and we are also speaking about the entire secondary school system, from Form 3 and upwards.

The figure of 72% relates to those students who feel that illegal drug use is either a serious problem or a very serious problem. If we knew the percentage of students at the school who feel that drug use at the school is merely a problem that figure would dramatically increase. I would expect the figure to be 100% of the students. A student would have to be blind, naïve, and willing to stand mute of malice to feel otherwise. That is my opinion, anyway.

Note that this figure of 72% is not a calculation relating to illicit drug use in the society in general. It is not a percentage of students who feel that students use illicit drugs at home or on the street. This percentage relates to drug use at school. That is, use of illicit drugs within the surrounding walls of the school itself. Students must daily come across activities or sights that cause them to express such concern. They must regularly witness incidents of drug selling, drug use, and the visible effects of drugs' use among their peers at school, to cause them to express such near-unanimous concern.

The Report recommends a number of simple and positive steps that can be taken to improve the situation at the school. These include:

2. Dramatically increase adult supervision at the school. It should not be an option for teachers to supervise the students, but an assigned duty. In addition, many parents who returned surveys indicated their willingness to help monitor and supervise at the school. Adult supervision is not just for enforcement; it can also offer many opportunities for positive interactions and good role modeling. This increased adult presence, along with a policy of assigning study halls during free time, will help ensure that there are no unsupervised students wandering the campus during class time.

3. An effective Drug and Alcohol policy needs to be created and enacted. There are many examples of these policies available. The new policy must address prevention, education and treatment. It must also have a provision for drug testing on campus. This process should be coordinated with other departments such as Judicial and Police.”

The cost of implementing these recommendations would be minimal. We do not have to re-invent the wheel all over again. There are many examples of programmes for monitoring illicit drug use in schools and educating students on the effects and implications of drug use available. A perfunctory Google search produced an avalanche of links.

Help can be obtained from the US Department of Educations' Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools programme.

Or, what about the web site of the Student Drug Testing Coalition website?

There are UNESCO programmes we can draw upon.

There is an Australian initiative we can look at.

There are journals on school drug education we can subscribe to, or at least read.

And, these are a small sample of what is available for anyone who is really interested in dealing with our High School drugs-problem in Anguilla.

For those of us interested in transparency, openness and good governance, I regret to report that a copy of the Report is not yet up on the government website. There is only the briefest of mentions on The Anguillian Newspaper website. A pity. The Report would have been more useful than many of the present offerings on view on both sites.


  1. Abdicating the education of a child -- much less his upbringing -- to the state is a recipe for disaster. Warehousing children for up to eight hours a day (including "programs") only promotes generational sociopathy. No child should be in school unless their parents want them to be, and only if the children obey the rules. If miscreant students were simply expelled, the rest would shape up in a hurry.

    Finally, if there were more schools, particularly, horrors, for-profit private ones, not only would overall teaching and education improve due to market competition, but students expelled from one school would have a second chance at another, where a changed scholastic cohort, and different teaching methods and administration may actually make a difference.

    After all, it is teachers themselves who talk about how class sizes are too large, and that students can't be supervised, much less educated in them. If there were more schools, there would of necessity be more teachers, and class sizes would obviously fall. Schools don't have to be large at all. Economies of scale in education is a contradiction in terms. Home-schooling puts the lie to that claim every day. If a truly free market for education existed, even the cost of education itself could come down. Competition not only improves a product, it also lowers its price.

    Compulsory education teaches disrespect for education itself, and thus fails both the children who want to be educated, and the ones who don't. Monopoly education fails children by not providing diversity of educational opportunity and a general decline in educational quality over time. Compulsory monopoly education fails an entire nation, by, as we're seeing, incubating sociopathy. Creating prison schools will not solve the problem. Creating free-market schools just might.

  2. When a prominent retired public servant gushes that a young Anguillian businessman is a "positive image and an inspiration to other young people," it would help a whole lot if she informed herself about how he got the money.

  3. On one of your previous postings, there were several comments about having adult supervision of the campus. I think that is the minimal response. It would be good to involve parents, but I definitely agree that it should be mandatory duty for the teachers. That is the practice in many other places. The teachers are more apt to know the students and when their activities are "out of the norm" (when they are some place they shouldn't be or with an outsider to the campus, etc.)

    That would be a sensible beginning point, and something that should be able to be initiated immediately.

  4. The first post above is excellent, but very far from accepted tradition here in Anguilla. To transform what we have now will require leadership from someone who can see beyond the limited horizon of our little island. I hope our leaders will stop their tiresome and moralistic preaching about what parents must do and what a village must do, accept that what we have is what we've got, and allow our visionary Educational Psychologist to do his job.

  5. "Compulsory education teaches disrespect for education itself, and thus fails both the children who want to be educated, and the ones who don't. Monopoly education fails children by not providing diversity of educational opportunity and a general decline in educational quality over time. Compulsory monopoly education fails an entire nation, by, as we're seeing, incubating sociopathy. Creating prison schools will not solve the problem. Creating free-market schools just might."

    I do agree with this, but it is not "the way things have been done," so would it really work in Anguilla? So many in our country, including the younger parents, seem to be stuck in "the way things have always been done," that I do not think that this new system would be accepted. Also, if parents have to pay for a child's education that is NOT compulsory, will they?

  6. Accepted tradition? How old is the comprehensive system? I'd think the idea of educating the privileged is more traditional but, eh, what do I know. Promoting 'more schools' as a solution to problems at ALHCS with an island wide population of about 1000 school children seems kinda big thinking in a small place, spreading the problem. I personally prefer a pila sht inside a bucket than spread out over the floor. The first can be cleaned up much easier when handed the right tools. A Gloria Homolulu High school for the rich, a Central Baptist High school for the holier than thou, are already eagerly planned but I don't think this will improve education for the average student or the students in general. If the teachers would just start to do their job, if they would stop hiding behind each other! There are many teachers at ALHCS from other islands and countries, who are more than familiar with the concept of adult supervision during lunch and break, nothing cultural or traditional about that, just doing your job, properly.
    The paper trails need to be simplified and made workable and then properly used by the teachers, again, many are more than familiar with referral forms, requests for intervention etc.. Full use should be made of options like WISE, Learning center and PRU (C) to transfer, temporary or permanent, those students who don't seem to fit in or who seem disaffected by ALHCS.
    What we have is what we got: one, soon two generations, of Anguillans who don't get the education their intelligence and talent require to come out as positive, contributing people because many teachers, including SMT, lost track of what teaching entails.
    Silver lining?
    Economic down turn, recession, hotels and resorts closing, might free up a labor force eager to become teachers, or return to teaching, making the teaching profession an interesting option, a job to hold on to by improving your standards. Then the Education Officers have the chance to pick the BEST and replace the rest. Then we’ll see change. Proper and differentiated lesson plans, schoolyard supervision, referrals made, meetings properly attended, supervised in-school suspension. ALHCS, the place to be! I think. Maybe.


    "Yes, doom and gloom can create a self fulfilling prophecy, but we trust ordinary people enough to know that a healthy dose of reality will inspire most to work harder, smarter and to appreciate the safety net provided by friends and family.

    And we had all better appreciate and look after each other and our friends and family because there may come a time very soon when the government elites are forced to admit that they haven’t got a bloody clue AND the piggy bank is empty."

    (Taken form another blog)

  8. I wonder how many current and former "foreign" teachers could have written and fully endorse the " Accepted Tradition" Post. I know I do.


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