of old DARE Naperville schools weigh new program
By Beth Sneller
Daily Herald Staff Writer
A community coalition
may have found an anti-drug effort to replace DARE in Naperville schools
by next fall.
Supporters say the program,
Too Good for Drugs, focuses on making healthy choices and building character.
It uses "social norms
marketing" to stress to students how few of their classmates use
drugs and alcohol and encourages youngsters to interact with parents
through homework assignments.
Representatives from Naperville
schools, drug prevention groups and the police have been meeting since
November to find an alternative to the long-running but increasingly
controversial Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
Naperville police officers
have brought the DARE curriculum to fifth-graders since 1993. But criticism
the program is outdated and doesn't really work have taken their toll,
Sgt. Mark Ksiazek said.
"We were defending it
on a regular basis," he said Thursday. "It's a wonderful program,
but it didn't keep up with the times."
Even the state dropped funding
for DARE at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year.
Police Chief David Dial asked
Ksiazek to form a committee to research other options.
The panel includes representatives
from Naperville Unit District 203, Indian Prairie Unit District 204,
Breaking Free, NCO Youth & Family Services and Ss. Peter and Paul
Members said the curriculum
should be scientifically valid, cost-effective, meet state and federal
standards, and include character-building activities.
There also has to be some
method of measuring how effective it is, members said.
"There are a lot of
programs out there," Ksiazek said. "But we were specifically
looking for one that met these criteria - and there weren't many."
The committee came upon Too
Good for Drugs, which has been named a model program by the U.S. Substance
Abuse Mental Health Services Administration.
"It has been scientifically
researched and has been shown to have positive outcomes in many different
settings," said Shari Johnson, assistant In Touch coordinator at
Breaking Free and a committee member.
Too Good for Drugs is a 10-week
program. DARE originally lasted 17 weeks, but will be shortened to 10
Although Too Good for Drugs
doesn't specifically include a "graduation," Naperville schools
likely would add their own, Ksiazek said.
"That was always a big
hit with the DARE program," he said. "There should be a recognition
Districts 203 and 204 and
the other organizations in the coalition still need to decide if Too
Good for Drugs is the right approach, Ksiazek said.
The city council also has
to take a look at the program.
If all organizations give
their stamp of approval, it could be implemented in time for the 2004-05
school year, officials said.
The District 204 curriculum
committee began discussing the program this week for the schools in
the Naperville portion of the system.
Aurora schools in
District 204, however, will continue using the 10-week DARE curriculum.
Copyright 2004 Paddock Publications,