School board is told the science is sound
Supporters of an anti-drug program with ties to the Church of Scientology addressed the San Francisco Board of Education on Tuesday night in attempt to show the value of keeping the program intact in the city’s public schools.
Narconon Drug Prevention and Education, created by the late Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, has presented anti-drug lectures in San Francisco’s public schools for 13 years.
But after stories in The Chronicle raised questions about the science behind the teachings and the presence of religious concepts in classroom lectures, school district officials ordered the program to revise part of its curriculum by this Thursday or be kicked out of the district.
Specifically, the district has disputed three Narconon claims: that all drugs are poisons, that drugs are stored in fat for years and may cause cravings for more drugs, and that alcohol is “made of dead rotted food.” In addition, The Chronicle stories cited several doctors who disputed the Narconon claims that drugs wreak havoc until they are sweated out.
A cadre of Narconon supporters told the school board on Tuesday night that the science behind the teachings is sound. Dr. Greg Hooper disputed the notion that Narconon is based on “pseudoscience” and said scientific research shows drug residue shows up later in urine and sweat.
“I’d like the board to remember to keep these facts in mind,” he said.
Tony Bylsma, Narconon’s education director, added that, “There’s no religious content in the Narconon program.”
Pam Parker, school board clerk for the Campbell-Union High School District in San Jose, said that she has been a Scientologist for 35 years and that the recent news articles about Narconon have been a “gross misrepresentation” of the program which she said has been successful in San Jose schools.
“We have never had any negative complaints come out of those drug education classes,” she said.
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said she will stick with her initial demands that Narconon change its curriculum or be removed from the list of approved community-based organizations that can work in San Francisco schools.
“My only comment is that my staff took a look at the curriculum and recommended that certain modifications be made. I support their recommendations,” she said. “My answer is the same. I’m still going to require the modifications.”