A letter to ONDCP Director Michael Botticelli

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August 12, 2014

The following is in response to an email sent out mid August 2014 about the 2015 ONDCP strategy.


Dear Mr. Botticelli,

Thank you for requesting feedback on the 2015 National Drug Control Strategy —  a sound and robust strategy grounded in research and projected outcomes necessary for a national effort. However, there is one glaring omission that I would like to bring to your attention: the rationing of drug prevention programming from federal agencies to our nation’s schools.

I use the term rationing because the shrinking and competitive nature of the funding is very selectively made available for school drug prevention efforts. Although the ONDCP 2014 Strategy Plan cites several examples of federal funding, much of this funding supports programs such as epidemiological workgroups, coalitions and other technical assistance programs and very often does not trickle down to the school level. When it does, the award process is so competitive that it naturally skews toward districts with the best grant writers and motivated personnel rather than those with the most problems that need to be addressed. . Much of the funding mentioned in the Strategy refers to national or state efforts in prevention that allow only a small percentage of schools to actually implement drug prevention programming.

Yet, our nation’s children and adolescents spend the largest percentage of their waking day in a school environment. In many cases, schools suffer from lack of funding to support staffing and programming that can affect change and make a difference in a youth’s life.

Title IV Safe and Drug Free schools funding, which expired in 2007, funded schools based on school enrollment. The funds were dedicated to prevention efforts, including program implementation and data collection to assess and improve performance. The elimination of this funding was gradual, from a high of $374,000,000 dispersed among all states to the final year of funding at $270,147,294.

Since 2007, we have seen attitudes change toward less perceived harmfulness of drugs, as cited in the Strategy and in our own data collected from hundreds of thousands of students across the nation. While perception of harm continues to decline, self-reported student drug use has slowly increased. While correlation is not causation, I cannot help but see the writing on the wall. Without consistent and fair funding to all schools for prevention efforts, all other efforts will be reactionary to preventable problems.

You say in your plan explicitly that, “Preventing drug use before it begins— particularly among young people— is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences. In fact, recent research has concluded that every dollar invested in school-based substance use prevention programs has the potential to save up to $18 in costs related to substance use disorders.”

With your own words in mind, I would recommend that you not only re-instate the Safe and Drug Free Schools funding but double it from the previous funding levels along with a fair and equitable system for dispersing the funds based on need and enrollment.


I would welcome a conversation with you about this possibility and would be happy to work on a Task Force to investigate the re-birth of the Safe and Drug Free Schools funding initiatives. Please reach me at jaygleaton@pridesurveys.com


Jay Gleaton
Pride Surveys

The original email this is responding can be read below.




Your feedback requested for the 2015 National Drug Control Strategy

August 12, 2014

Dear Friends:

In July, the Administration released its science-based plan to reduce drug use and its consequences, founded on the latest research regarding the nature of substance use.  The 2014 National Drug Control Strategy (Strategy) is based on the scientific consensus that addiction is a disease of the brain that can be prevented, treated and from which people can recover, not a moral failure on the part of the individual.

The 2014 Strategy builds on the Administration’s record of drug policy reform by outlining a series of actions that will continue to expand health interventions and “smart on crime” alternatives proven to reduce drug use and its consequences in America.  It is the product of extensive dialogue and consultation with partners, policy makers, practitioners, and subject matter experts across the Nation and around the world.  This process of consultation led to a number of enhancements in the 2014 Strategy, including highlighting the series of actions currently underway to reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic in the United States.

As an important stakeholder and partner, thank you for your contributions to the Strategy and for the work you do every day to reduce drug use and its consequences.  We are beginning the development of the 2015 Strategy, and your input will be vital as we seek to continue the Administration’s record of drug policy reform.  Pleaseemail your comments directly to 2015Strategy@ondcp.eop.gov.  We would appreciate receiving your feedback no later than September 15, 2014

Thank you for your input and continued partnership.


                                                                        Michael P. Botticelli

                                                                       Acting Director

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