Grantee finds that Oregon schools mostly fail to comply with state law on substance use prevention programs

Oregon’s public schools have done little to educate students about the risks of substance abuse and how to combat addiction, according to a collaborative investigation by the LUND Report, the University of Oregon Journalism Project and Oregon Public Broadcasting, with support from the Fund. As part of the series, the team gathered curriculum from most of the state’s 197 public school districts, and Emily Green and Elizabeth Yost built a database with the curriculum and substance use rates of students in the districts. Oregon law requires administrators of every public school district to have a robust substance use prevention strategy based on research. But the team’s reporting showed that 60 percent of Oregon’s school districts don’t use prevention curricula or programs at any grade that meet even the lowest bar for evidence, including Portland Public Schools. Only 20 percent of the school districts do more than use a chapter in a textbook to teach addiction prevention. Until this series launched, there had been no public analysis that looked at how substance use prevention is taught in Oregon’s public schools and school districts’ prevention strategies.