In recent years, New York City’s education landscape has witnessed an alarming trend that has parents, educators, and policymakers deeply concerned. A surge in drug-related incidents in public schools has sparked a contentious debate, raising questions about the safety and well-being of our city’s young minds.
As the sun rises over the bustling metropolis, students in the Big Apple are increasingly waking up to more than just their morning routines. The New York Post’s investigation has revealed a growing number of students who are indulging in early-morning drug use before they even set foot inside their classrooms. It’s a troubling phenomenon that has left teachers baffled and students divided.
One exasperated teacher at August Martin High School in Queens shared, “They come in sluggish or sleepy. Their eyes are red. Sometimes you can smell it, too.” This raises a fundamental question: Can students truly learn effectively when they are under the influence?
Mayor Eric Adams, addressing the issue in his “State of Our Schools” speech, pointed out a concerning factor contributing to this rise in drug use – the proliferation of illegal cannabis stores in every corner of the city. “A few blocks from here on their way to school, we are selling cannabis in the stores where they come in high every day,” he revealed. It’s a stark reminder of the challenges our city faces in combating the spread of illegal substances.
The statistics paint a grim picture. Incidents involving illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, alcohol, and unauthorized use or possession of controlled substances have increased by a staggering 17% during the 2022-2023 school year compared to the previous year, according to city officials. This is a trend that cannot be ignored any longer.
The New York Post’s own observations provide further evidence of the problem at hand. Teens were seen gathering to take hits of marijuana before school, and many students have reported witnessing their peers come to school high and openly using vape pens within the school premises.
“They vape all the time. Everybody knows that. They go in the bathroom in groups,” one 11th-grader at August Martin school revealed. The accessibility of plastic vape devices has made it easier for students to sneak these devices past metal detectors, exacerbating the problem.
However, it’s important to note that not all students are partaking in this risky behavior. Some are choosing a more responsible path. “I see it but I don’t drink or smoke,” said one senior who aspires to pursue a career in trade school. This determination to stay away from drugs underscores the importance of instilling values and offering alternative paths for our youth.
The issue extends beyond marijuana, as concerns grow about the safety of the substances being consumed. Officials have warned of marijuana being laced with the deadly drug fentanyl, a cause for alarm among students and parents alike. Moreover, there are concerns about other drugs being laced with a sedative known as tranq, often referred to as the “zombie drug.” These are very real dangers that our students are being exposed to.
The rise of illegal cannabis stores in neighborhoods and the lack of effective enforcement have contributed to the ease with which students can access these substances. “There’s so many of these shops around now, and there doesn’t seem to be any real enforcement,” lamented Naveed Hasan, a Harlem parent and member of the education council group for District 2 in Manhattan.
In response to this concerning trend, state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require individuals under 21 caught smoking pot to attend a cannabis diversion program along with their parents. While this may be a step in the right direction, it is crucial that we continue to address the root causes of this issue.
The future of our city depends on the education and well-being of our youth. It is incumbent upon parents, educators, and policymakers to work together to find solutions that will ensure our students have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe and drug-free environment. The rising drug-related incidents in our schools demand our attention and collective action to protect the next generation.