Most parents with children in public school are unaware that the New Jersey Attorney General has been giving an intrusive "drug and alcohol" survey to "selected" high school students for some 20 years. This survey asks minor children to first state their race and then to answer honestly personal and probing questions about their home life and illegal, self-incriminating activity, all behind the backs of their parents. As a person of color, I was appalled to discover this racial profiling practice.
Questions include, "I smoke marijuana because members of my family use it, and I drink alcohol because members of my family drink." The answers given by our children are compared by race (black, Hispanic and white) and graphed for posterity. Make no mistake, the AG is not racially profiling "good" behaviors, he is profiling "bad" behaviors and the self-reported incidence of illegal and self-incriminating activity by the child and parent.
A bill that would curtail this insidious practice of children being asked to inform on their parents (A2351/S1454) passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly (55 to 16) and in the Senate (27 to 6). The Governor conditionally vetoed the bill last week and substituted "passive consent" for informed written consent. Sadly, this allows her AG to continue this racial profiling of your child. This bill will soon come up again for a vote in the legislature in its original form. Those members who voted "no" or "abstained" represent largely minority districts in the State. But residents of those districts should not be less entitled to their children's and families' privacy rights than those from more affluent localities whose Senators and Assemblymen unanimously supported the bill.
Powerful special interest groups who will lose their unfettered prerogative to interrogate your child, have asked your legislator to vote against this bill, putting the goals of the Dept. Of Education, New Jersey School Boards Association and the Attorney General ahead of you and your children. Passive consent is no alternative and allows the State to presume it owns your rights unless you send a letter to the school asserting them. But if you are out of town, or simply did not get the letter telling you about the survey, you are out of luck and your rights will be taken by the state. Is this any way to run a free country?
The Governor's veto says that if the survey is given "voluntarily," you need not even be informed at all. How so? The AG says his survey is "voluntary," even though he admits that 98 percent of students comply and take it. But how truly voluntary is anything in the mandatory environment of public school? In District 31 only Assemblyman Doria voted "yes" to protect the rights of parents and children. Unfortunately, Senator O'Connor, Jr. voted "no", along with Assemblyman Charles Jr. Please ask them to rethink their "no" votes and support this much needed legislation. You as a concerned parent and constituent can make the difference. Tell them that your rights to privacy are valuable to your and your family.