Options for Restructuring the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act: Report with Background Papers and Focus Group Summary
Jan 1, 2001
Note: Many electronic documents posted prior to 2003 are available as chapter PDFs or HTML files linked from the Contents.
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This report synthesizes the findings of a review of the structure and performance of the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) and assesses options for reforming it. The Act provides for a $600-million-per-year program of grants to states, which pass the money onto school districts for programs aimed at reducing school violence and drug abuse. However, the formula by which money is disbursed does not focus on the schools most in need of help, and it spreads the money too thinly. Moreover, the guidelines for expenditure permit schools to use the funds for programs that are unproven, and the legislation gives the federal government limited ability to foster effective programs. The SDFSCA program has not been credibly evaluated, but it is widely thought to have accomplished little. Yet the problems it addresses are so serious and widespread that the federal government cannot reasonably afford to abandon its commitment. Few proposals for reform have been offered, and only the one put forth by the Clinton administration is currently fully developed. That proposal moves in the right direction, but it addresses only some of the ways in which the program could be improved. This report suggests criteria for judging reform options and presents ways in which the proposal under discussion could be strengthened.