Robert A. Teegarden's Blog

March 4, 2010

Crowd Control from 30,000 Feet

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Robert @ 6:03 pm
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HR 4247 (Miller – Pupil Restraint and Seclusion) was passed by the House of Representatives earlier yesterday by a vote of 262-153 with 16 members not voting. HR 4247 is a very dangerous bill on several levels. HR4247 would establish detailed conditions surrounding the use of physical restraint and seclusion, require government and private school teachers to have special training and certification and require annual demographic reports on the use of physical restraint. My God, now we’re going to have a Certification for Restraint. Or maybe it’ll be Seclusion Specialist Certificate.

But HR 4247 is no laughing matter; and neither is the behavior that gave rise to its consideration. I would wish relief if my child were subject to alleged abuse of this type and I would wish “none harm” to any students in schooling. But Mr. Miller’s solution is iatrogenic—the cure is worse than the disease.

 According to the authors, HR 4247 was intended to “address a narrow set of special-purpose schools and circumstances in which students are restrained or secluded for an extensive period of time in connection with an institution’s inappropriate disciplinary practice or policy.”

A couple of schools have some “inappropriate disciplinary practice or policy.” The cry goes up, “There oughta be a law!” Congressman Miller takes it to heart. But instead of focusing on the errant institutions or questionable teachers, instead of confronting bad behavior, instead of focusing on the cases in question what does he do… he sets out to pass a law to regulate and jeopardize the kids in schools where they’re DOING IT RIGHT.  This violates so many sides of common sense; it’s just wrong. 95% of the schools and their teachers have to have their common sense insulted because we’re afraid to confront those individuals and institutions which are in serious error. When will we learn?

HR 4247 is bad policy:

First – just in general, there is no role for the Federal Government in education. There is nothing in the US Constitution that speaks about a Federal mandate or role in schooling kids. Along with all the other intrusions into state’s rights, the federal government should stay out. But that’s not going to happen because, besides a synagogue or church, schools are the closest institution to the home and that means votes.

Second—this is Federal micromanagement at its worst. There will be millions of hours and dollars spent reporting the lack of incidents, time and resources better spent with kids in classrooms.

Third—where does the Fed come off laying this trip on private schools? I thought they were “private” for exactly that reason, they’re not government schools. Some argue that with the sheckles come the shackles—if the government gives your kids services or grants, you’re subject to their regulations and expectations. But this just doesn’t make any sense. That’s like saying if you’re an employee of the government and therefore receive a salary from taxes, you cannot contribute to the collection plate at your favorite house of worship because that would somehow violate the principle of the separation of church and state.

Fourth—HR 4247 violates the principle of Subsidiarity—regulation and oversight should be closest to the situation. The burden here is on the parents, the local board and, perhaps, even law enforcement. Otherwise, Mr. Miller is trying to do crowd control from 30,000 feet. It just won’t work. It’s dangerous.

Fifth—and most important—HR 4247 will now create doubt and put kids in mortal danger. Your faculty and staff have taken the required courses. The instructors have emphasized the penalties involved if one varies from expectations. There is fine detail about the dos and don’ts, the whens and wherefores. Teachers are certified. Now you’re on yard duty after school, monitoring kids going to and fro. Junior Jones impetuously runs out in the street to fetch a playground ball. Your first instinct is to grab him and save his life from oncoming traffic. But just for a moment, your brain replays the classroom tapes about appropriate restraint and the reporting requirements. In that moment lies life or death for a child. Kids shouldn’t have to be put in jeopardy by law. Teachers shouldn’t have to be micromanaged from 30,000 feet.

We can all protect our kids in far safer ways without dangerous bills like HR 4247.

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