Sunday, December 21, 2008

To Test or Not to Test, That is the Question

I must start with two disclaimers.

1. I do not like unions. Unions are a huge drag on the economy. My first experience with unions was as an 18 year old in my first real job with a textile company in Birmingham Alabama in 1969. A small group, 20-30 percent of the employees, went on strike. They used to stand outside of the outlet store where I was the sole employee.

They cursed me and verbally abused me in many ways. The cars of those who disagreed with them were routinely vandalized. In the 40years since, I have not seen much to disabuse me of my initial feelings.

The current congressional goal to get rid of the secret ballot in union organizing is a continuation of this attitude. (I call it the "Union Right to Harrass bill") Of all the unions, I think the teachers' union probably does the most damage because they are a huge weight against making our schools competitive.

2. I support the legalization of Marijuanna. Not because I think it is good. Not because I want to use it--I do not even drink alchol except with very rare exceptions and I do not recall the last exception. But, because it is only marginally harmful and we do far more damage trying to stomp it out. This is a war we HAVE lost.

So, I make this disclosure because Unions are NOT the reason I am upset with the Hawaii Teachers Union. They made an agreement to be subject to random drug testing in return for an 11 percent pay raise. Well, in two years of getting the raise, no one has been tested. Further, the testing is being fought and argued against, even though the rank and file accepted it.

I think random drug testing is a great idea! Of course, I spent 26 years working for Uncle Sam and was constantly subjected to this same random drug testing program. I have been called at 2 AM along with an entire corps. Two thousand people or so standing in line to take the golden flow exam.

My last military posting was, oddly enough, Hawaii. Here, each month the military spun the magic dial and picked a number from 0 to 9. Everyone whose SSN ended in that didget lined up to fill the good old bottle.

So, let's go back into history. Leading up to and at the end of the Vietnam War, April 30, 1975 officially. The military was in a very low funk. Morale was not good. As a matter of fact I can recall my time in a military school in 1971 and 1972 where any walk down a barracks hall would likely have caused a positive reading for cannibas.

In Germany, in the late 70's, the military drug empidemic was very tough. I recall the story of an officer who walked into a second floor dorm and caught some dopers. They put him in a locker and threw the locker out the window. I believe he died. It was not a pretty picture.

So, in the late 70's the military finally got some backbone. They instituted the on call Golden Flow test system coupled with a very hard "Be positive (w/o a perscription) and you are history" policy. In a relatively short time, couple of years, the military had very little problem with drugs. Not to say we stopped the problem because we did loose people after that. Unfortunately, we lost some good troops due to the policy. But, we cleaned up the system.

One of the arguments the DOE in Hawaii has used is the cost, $35 per person. Of course, you do not test everyone and after a few are fired, the random nature of the testing keeps folks in line.

So, you Hawaii teachers, suck it up. Step out smartly. Fill the old bottle and get to work. You are, after-all, the primary adult model our kids see. You agreeded to the program. If you do drugs, you do not belong at the podium.

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