St. Charles Looks at 2 DARE Alternatives
Smith, Lisa, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Lisa Smith Daily Herald Staff Writer
Two anti-drug programs under consideration to replace DARE in the St. Charles school district this fall feature research-based approaches that focus on character building and interpersonal skills.
A group of health and physical education teachers in the district is evaluating both the Too Good For Drugs and the LifeSkills Training programs.
One of the two programs is expected to be implemented on a pilot basis to fifth-graders at a few of the elementary schools within the St. Charles city limits this fall. The remaining schools would continue using the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.
"I think we felt they were a good fit for the district," said school board member Kathy Hewell, who, with a parent, teachers and principals, spent several weeks researching DARE alternatives. "They had really detailed lesson plans that seemed to fit with the fifth-grade mentality."
Naperville Unit District 203 might start Too Good For Drugs this fall in each of its 14 elementary schools. District officials are seeking funding for the program from the city of Naperville, which provided DARE - along with police officers to teach the program - at no cost to the school district, said Sandy Stelmach, student assistance coordinator.
If the funding is approved, Naperville officers and fifth-grade teachers would teach the Too Good For Drugs program, Stelmach said.
Too Good For Drugs was developed with a group of teachers from the Tampa, Fla., area in 1978 and now is used in 2,500 U.S. school districts at all grade levels, said Susan Chase, the program's training director.
"It's heavily life-skills based," Chase said of the program. "Research has shown that what's effective is teaching kids how to resist peer pressure, how to set goals so alcohol and drugs don't get in the way of reaching their goals."
An independent 2003 study funded by the Florida Department of Education called the program "effective for students regardless of gender, socioeconomic status and ethnic background."
LifeSkills Training, developed by a medical professor at Cornell University, is used in about 3,000 middle and junior high school classrooms nationwide, including the Chicago Public Schools. …