biggest suburb drops D.A.R.E.
The workhorse of anti-drug education in Saginaw
Township schools is headed to pasture.
by Bryce Hoffman, The Saginaw News,
Tuesday, August 13, 2002
Police are scrapping a 10-year-old commitment to D.A.R.E. -- Drug
Abuse Resistance Education -- in favor of a home-grown program known
as "Smart Moves."
Bay City police officers designed the curriculum, which has a manual
10 times thicker than the course materials from D.A.R.E., said Saginaw
Township Lt. Gary P. Grauf.
Smart Moves incorporates lessons on gangs, bicycle safety, drugs,
alcohol, the danger of strangers and other issues affecting young
"It looks like a real promising program," he said.
The D.A.R.E. program is taught in 80 percent of American school
districts, but it has come under increased scrutiny. Watchdog groups,
law enforcement and media organizations have questioned its
Grauf said Saginaw Township has no beef with D.A.R.E. The move is
based on a desire to expand several youth-oriented programs under one
umbrella, he said.
Unlike D.A.R.E., which targets fifth graders for 17 weeks with an
anti-drug message, "Smart Moves" reaches youngsters at several grade
levels with several messages, Grauf said. Saginaw Township pupils will
receive Smart Moves instruction in grades one, three, seven, nine and
Officers also intend to drop in for informal school visits during
lunches and recess, Grauf said.
Resource officers Jon Stinson, Elizabeth Collison and Christopher
Fredenburg will handle most of the elementary and middle school
duties. School resource officer Donald Koski will teach high school
Despite the recent criticism directed at D.A.R.E., Frankenmuth Public
Schools administrators have no plans to drop the program.
"We're really pleased with the program and the curriculum," said
Superintendent Michael Murphy.
"I don't think there's any program out there that's the silver bullet
that will stop drug use among students, but we think (D.A.R.E.) is as
effective as any program out there."
The Saginaw Police Department stopped funding the Saginaw School
District's D.A.R.E. program two years ago because of budget
constraints, school officials said.
Meanwhile, the Saginaw Township Police Department restructured its
Crime Prevention Unit and its community policing office in the
southern part of the township to accommodate the Smart Moves project.
It also reassigned the D.A.R.E. officer.
The school district pays the department a prorated amount of money for
instructional costs, Grauf said.
The overhaul is part of Chief Stephen C. Renico's "Forward to Basics"
philosophy. The idea is to put more emphasis on community outreach and
crime prevention, Grauf said.
The millage that pays for the Saginaw Township police does not expire
until 2013, so the department will not have any extra money to hire
more officers for at least a decade, Grauf said.
Administrators hope an ounce of prevention will conserve
crime-fighting dollars down the road by producing law-abiding young
adults and better community relations.
"If we're going to try to keep things under wraps and keep crime down,
we've got to go out and enlist the public as allies," Grauf said.
Principals and administrators from Saginaw Township Community Schools
met with police Monday about the changeover.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Sandra K. Galko, principal of
Plainfield Elementary, 2775 Shattuck. "It's going to help the Police
Department establish a better rapport. The children need as many role
models as they possibly can have." t
Bryce Hoffman covers law enforcement for The Saginaw News. You may
reach him at 776-9673.