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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Scared sober

I'd fire every one of these "educators":

OCEANSIDE, Calif.—On a Monday morning last month, highway patrol officers visited 20 classrooms at El Camino High School to announce some horrible news: Students had been killed in car wrecks over the weekend.

Classmates wept. Some became hysterical.

A few hours and many tears later, though, the pain turned to fury when the teenagers learned that it was all a hoax—a scared-straight exercise designed by school officials to dramatize the consequences of drinking and driving.

As seniors prepare for graduation parties Friday, school officials in the largely prosperous San Diego suburb are defending themselves against allegations they went too far.

At assemblies where speakers talked about the dangers of drunk driving, some students held posters that read: "Death is real. Don't play with our emotions."

Michelle de Gracia, 16, was in physics class when an officer announced her missing classmate David, a popular basketball player, died instantly after being rear-ended by a drunk driver. She felt nauseated but was too frozen to cry.

"They got the shock they wanted," she said.

Some of her classmates were hysterical, prompting the teacher to tell them immediately the death was staged.

Want to try to get through to these kids about drinking and driving, show them some real stuff -- video of accidents or photos of victims, maybe even some real bodies. But don't try to make them think their friends have been killed. Absolutely ghoulish. And what were police thinking to go along with it?

Posted in: Current Affairs


Harl Delos
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 9:29am

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.

-- 1983 report of the National Commission on Education

Bob G.
Fri, 06/13/2008 - 9:59am

Only in california, Leo...ONLY in california.