Letter to the Nashville Scene about Governor George Bush's "Teacher Protection Act"
By Tom Johnson, October 19, 2000

To the editor:

Since last November, George W. Bush has advocated a federal "Teacher Protection Act" to immunize school officials from discipline-related "junk lawsuits." As he has never offered an example of such a lawsuit, we are left to guess what kind of judicial standard he seeks to impose on schoolchildren--and their parents--in every state ("local control" notwisthstanding).

It's worth considering that Gov. Bush's Texas has such an imbalance of legal power that school disciplinarians get away with acts of brutality to children for which a parent would be charged with child abuse. The only clear restriction state law puts on hitting students is that it be "short of lethal force."

Of course, even in states without such codified immunity for schools, parents whose kids are beaten by teachers, principals, coaches, or administrators--sometimes to the point of serious injury--have a low success rate in seeking redress. Especially given his promise to rid schools of violence, Bush should be proposing ways to make children less vulnerable to battery at the hands of school personnel.

Too bad that child abuse fails to inspire politicians the way teachers' complaints of liability seem to.

Tom Johnson
P.O Box 121486
Nashville TN 37212
298-9812 (home)

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