Monthly Archives: May 2018

Abbott proposes unlocking guns on school campuses

 

Not only does Gov. Greg Abbott want to arm more teachers and other school employees, he also wants to unlock their guns during the school day. This is one provision of the governor’s proposal to expand the voluntary “school marshal” program that allows schools to designate a limited number of teachers and other employees to have firearms at school.

At last count, about 170 school districts, many in rural areas, participate.

Under current law, however, guns brought to school by teachers or other employees who have direct contact with students have to be kept locked up, unless there is a life-threatening emergency. If the Legislature goes along with Abbott’s new plan, the locks would be removed.

The governor apparently believes that if you are going to arm teachers or principals to confront armed intruders, it makes no sense to require those teachers or principals or whoever to waste precious minutes trying to unlock a drawer or a safe after mayhem already has erupted.

Abbott would rather take a chance with the very real dangers – accidental discharges, thefts, etc — that unlocked firearms in classrooms, gyms, cafeterias or elsewhere on school campuses would pose for students and school employees each and every school day.

But how many parents really want to send their children to a school where there may be a pistol – either loaded or with ammunition stored nearby — in an unlocked classroom drawer?

TSTA opposes arming more teachers or other school employees because, even with firearms training, most would be no match for a heavily armed intruder who has planned his attack, has the element of surprise, is probably suicidal and is determined to kill.

As TSTA President Noel Candelaria said this week in response to Abbott’s proposal, “Teachers are trained to teach and to nurture, not double up as security guards.”

In a recent national survey, 82 percent of educators told the National Education Association they will not take guns to school because they don’t believe that is the answer to gun violence.

TSTA supports the hiring of more professionally trained, fulltime security guards for school campuses and strengthening school facilities against intruders, which the governor also has proposed. TSTA also supports the governor’s call for increased mental health services and other steps to identify students at risk of hurting others. TSTA also believes the state should provide more funding to pay for all these proposals, an issue that the governor’s plan doesn’t fully address.

Abbott apparently is thin-skinned about TSTA’s opposition to arming teachers. In a tweet yesterday, he accused TSTA of not reading his plan before criticizing it. He said he doesn’t “mandate” arming teachers. We read his plan, and we know he doesn’t “mandate” more guns for teachers, but he certainly has proposed it. And it is a bad idea.

 

 

 

DeVos promotes vouchers for religious schools

 

Betsy DeVos, the Trump Cabinet officer in charge of destroying public education, was in New York City recently, complaining once again about good public policy and vowing to do away with it.

This time, DeVos’ ill-informed scorn was directed at state constitutional provisions, including one in Texas, that prohibit the expenditure of public tax dollars on religious institutions, including schools. She said these restrictions should be “assigned to the ash heap of history” because they stood in the way of privatizing public education.

One of these days, of course , DeVos and the entire Trump administration will be consigned to the ash heap of history, but in the meantime we have to keep fighting their bad ideas, including vouchers and other schemes to convert public schools into revenue sources for business investors and religious institutions.

According to Education Week, which reported on DeVos’ New York trip, 37 states have constitutional bans on spending public funds on faith-based enterprises. Texas’ prohibition, Article 1, Section 7 of the state constitution, states:

“No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.” (Someone should read that to Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.)

In 2000, DeVos helped lead an effort to change the constitution in her home state, Michigan, to allow for school vouchers but failed.

But the fight to save public schools will continue because DeVos has a lot of bad ideas, and her allies in Texas have been ignoring their own state constitution.

How will Second Amendment Abbott try to address gun violence in schools?

 

No doubt, Gov. Greg Abbott is as devastated as most Texans over the tragedy at Santa Fe High School, the senseless loss of 10 more people to gun violence. But what, if anything, will he do about it?

As he convened roundtables on the issue, Abbott suggested metal detectors for school buildings, speeding up background checks for gun purchases and trying to keep guns out of the hands of people who “pose immediate danger” to others.

But Abbott is a governor in a reelection year who counts passionate gun-rights advocates among his political base. He is a governor who, upon learning three years ago that Texas was second to California in new gun sales, tweeted: “I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.”

That tweet was featured this week by a pro-gun rights blogger, who sought to reassure his readers that they didn’t need to worry about Gov. Abbott flying off the Second Amendment rails and doing something rational. Something like putting additional restrictions on guns, which Gov. Rick Scott of Florida did when he signed a new gun law following the Parkland school shootings in Florida.

“In case you haven’t noticed, Texas isn’t Florida,” wrote Dan Zimmerman, managing editor of thetruthaboutguns.com, a pro-gun rights blog. “Republicans control every branch of state government and Abbott’s been a frequent, dependable and vocal promoter of gun rights and the Second Amendment. He’s supported both open carry and campus carry in this state and signed both into law.”

Zimmerman predicted Abbott will not do what the Florida governor did following Parkland. Abbott, he said, will not sign a bill raising the minimum age to buy firearms, banning bump fire stocks – which enable guns to be fired more rapidly – and imposing a three-day waiting period on long gun purchases. (None of those steps would have had any effect on the Santa Fe shooter, but they could help curtail future violence.)

“You’ll probably sooner see the Governor (Abbott) propose a bill outlawing barbecued brisket and Lone Star Beer,” Zimmerman wrote.

He predicted: “Our guess is that the result of these meetings (Abbott’s roundtables on gun violence) will be a white paper and possible legislation aimed at making schools harder targets. Restricting outside access, use of metal detectors, adding more armed School Resource Officers and encouraging more districts to allow teachers, administrators and other employees to carry firearms, if they wish.”

That would fit Abbott’s political resume, but we will find out soon enough.

 

Worry about fake “education reform,” not “fake news”

 

Dan Patrick knows a lot about fakery because that’s what he peddles. You know, fake “education reform.” A fake “public safety emergency” over who uses which bathroom. Last year, there also was a fake teacher “pay raise,” which fooled no one.

Now, it’s kind of amusing that he is complaining in a campaign radio ad about something he calls “fake news.”

I don’t know what prompted this particular tirade, other than the need to throw some more red meat to his base, but it’s disturbing how much political mileage Patrick can get from whining about how he allegedly is “mistreated” by the news media.

“The press has always been biased against conservatives, but what we are seeing today is total disregard for the truth. It’s fake news,” he says in his ad.

Attacking the media is an ageless political ploy, and it’s much easier for a politician like Patrick to do than proposing a realistic solution to a real problem, such as…say… inadequate school funding.

The media mainly is biased against political baloney, and Patrick obviously has a problem with that.

 

 

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