Bush: ‘No’ to Drugs; ‘Yes’ to Opening Up Teaching

March 29, 1989 4 min read

Following are excerpts from President Bush’s March 22 address to students at Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pa.

Our task is not just to deplore the drug problem, but to take action against it. ... And one of the most powerful weapons against drug use is education. ...

Antidrug education and awareness can help provide the kids and the young adults with both the reasons and the willpower to resist the lure of drugs. And that’s the aim of an antidrug-education program called dare--Drug Abuse Resistance Education--and that’s helping, as the people involved with dare like to say, “drug-proof” our children. The program was pioneered by the Los Angeles Police Department and the L.A. public-school system. Dare sends police officers into the classroom, to work with the kids, build their self-esteem, and teach them that they can refuse when they’re pressured to try drugs. And the program is teaching youngsters something else: that the police and their schools are united in a common effort to stop drug abuse.

In the six years since the program began in California, dare has caught on nationwide. This year, in 1,200 communities in 45 states, 3 million children will participate. ...

For my part, I’m going to see that drug education receives the funding it needs. Most of the funding, as you know, comes from local school boards and states. I think 7 percent of the funding is federal. But our budget this year for 1990 calls for a full $1.1 billion for drug prevention and antidrug-education activity. And even in these tight budget times, that’s up 16 percent over 1989.

I’ve urged Congress to provide $392 million for the Drug Free Schools and Communities program, funds that go to the states and institutions of higher education. ...

There’s no room for saying, “Drug abuse doesn’t affect me.” Think about the costs of drug abuse: the lost time, the waste, the crime, the accidents that can be traced to the influence of drugs--23 million Americans used illegal drugs last year. Countless thousands died. And the fact is that none of us--none of us--is immune to the problems that drug abuse can cause.

So together let’s you and me send a message on drug abuse:

To the so-called “casual” user: face up to the fact that your so-called “recreational” drug use contributes to the drug culture--to the crime, the death and degradation associated with the drug trade. ...

To parents: your children know more than you realize about drugs. Make it your business as a parent to know about drug abuse yourself. Your children depend on you to help separate the fact from the fiction--to help them make a choice, and then stick with it, when it comes to resisting drugs.

To the kids, let’s send the message that drugs are dangerous. That you don’t need drugs to feel good about yourself--or to win approval from others. That your parents, the people in your schools and community care.

But most of all, you must understand that the decision against drugs is yours to make--no one else’s.

As a community, we must work to make it as easy as possible for our children to make the choice against drugs. We can do it by creating an environment--a safe, secure space, if you will, where our kids can acquire a sense of self and self-confidence so secure that no amount of peer-group pressure can push them into taking drugs.

... [T]he enforcement side of this equation is absolutely essential. ... The authorities must enforce the law and we must make an example of those who are pushing drugs.

The President made the following remarks on teacher certification in a March 16 speech to the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame dinner in Colorado Springs, Colo.:

[W]e need to remove the barriers that can keep talented teachers out of the classroom. Think of the knowledge assembled in this room today--the business acumen, the hands-on economic experience that you all possess. Junior Achievement makes it possible for you to pass that on to our schoolchildren.

But what about people with similar levels of knowledge? Their entry into teaching as a profession is barred in our country by the excessive requirements of certification--requirements that many in this room, the brightest here, could not meet. And you could be a Ph.D., a tremendous success in business, and yet the layers of requirements for teaching in our public schools keeps you from volunteering [on a] sabbatical-year basis for helping the young people of this country. Regulations make it impossible for schools to hire people ... whose capabilities are represented [here].

Teachers-by-training aren’t the only ones who can teach. I’m not saying you don’t need some education courses, but I urge the state and local school systems to take a look at their certification systems and make sure we open up our schools to those with a lifetime of experience outside the classroom, who are ready and willing to share what they know with our young people.

A version of this article appeared in the March 29, 1989 edition of Education Week as Bush: ‘No’ to Drugs; ‘Yes’ to Opening Up Teaching