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School Districts Transition from DARE, Implementing Top-rated LST Instead

Grapevine-Colleyville is the latest North Texas school district to drop out of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program, and if its exit is any indication, the pioneering anti-drug abuse program for students is not as popular as it once was in the region.

The district elected not to renew its junior-high DARE contract for the 2009-10 school year, district spokeswoman Megan Overman said, opting instead to extend its elementary-level LifeSkills program into the middle schools.

Other local districts have also dropped the DARE program over the past decade. Nationally, DARE’s critics have said the program is ineffective and even counterproductive by quoting high usage figures that make drugs seem like a route to popularity for at-risk kids who are seeking to fit in. Other critics say that it is difficult to authenticate DARE’s results and that its information has sometimes been inaccurate.

Cities and school districts are also dealing with tighter budgets, and DARE programs can typically cost $500,000 and more for cities the size of Arlington, Garland and Fort Worth. There is also more competition for students’ time with standardized testing and added math and science requirements.

"We quit using DARE four or five years ago," said Clint Bond, spokesman for the Fort Worth district. "Apparently, trying to get the data on its effectiveness proved to be not worth the effort for the program."

The Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Lake Worth and Arlington school districts also dropped their DARE programs.

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