Bennett's Lead Role in Ad Panned by School Critics

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

In scenes that aroused the ire of critics, the television advertisement depicts the Secretary peering into lockers where students have been shown concealing drugs and tequilla.

Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has unveiled a $225,000 advertising campaign in which he urges Americans to "slam the door on drugs in our schools." The Secretary stars in the public-service radio and television spots. In the latter, he is seen walking school corridors and slamming the door of a locker to illustrate his point.

The campaign is designed to enlist participation in the Education Department's program "Schools Without Drugs: The Challenge." The ads provide a toll-free number for ordering copies of the department's booklet on anti-drug-abuse programs.

At a news conference in New York City kicking off the campaign this month, Mayor Edward I. Koch and city school officials expressed doubts about the Administration's commitment to an anti-drug program whose funding it proposed halving next year.

"We are reviewing the funding right now," Mr. Bennett replied. "We are not going to be stingy."

Groups See 'Propaganda'

The ads themselves displeased the American Association of School Administrators and the National Association of State Boards of Education, whose officials last week issued similar statements criticizing Mr. Bennett for "portraying students as drug users and schools as a primary marketplace for drugs and alcohol."

"Everyone should be concerned that the department has used a legitimate program ... to further its propaganda objectives," the aasa statement said. "Drug and alcohol abuse are serious problems in our society. The schools did not cause those problems."

"We didn't say all kids use drugs, we said a lot of kids use drugs, and the evidence is there," responded Mr. Bennett, adding that there is also evidence that many students buy drugs in school.

The school officials are "just denying the problem," he continued. "Adults tend to underestimate this. Often school administrators have an interest in underestimating this."

The aasa particularly objected to a scene in which two students are shown concealing bags of marijuana and pills in their lockers, while a bottle of tequila is seen in a third locker.

A department spokesman stressed that the ads make no statistical statement about the prevalence of drugs in schools, and said an effort had been made not to show exaggerated amounts of drugs.

William Kristol, Mr. Bennett's chief of staff, added, "It's not like we sat around and said, 'How can we be hysterical about drugs?"'--jm

Vol. 07, Issue 02

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

To Address Chronic Absenteeism, Dig into the Data

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Keep Your Schools Safe and Responsive to Real Challenges

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

3 Unique Learner Profiles for Emerging Bilinguals

Effective Questioning Practices to Spur Thinking

Empower Reading Teachers with Proven Literacy PD

Student Engagement Lessons from 3 Successful Districts

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >