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Teachers criticize bill that would arm them

January 30, 2013 |  3:37 pm

A proposal by a group of Republican lawmakers to arm teachers, administrators and janitors at California schools is getting poor grades from the state's teachers associations.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino and six colleagues have introduced a bill that would allow school districts to spend education funding to train teachers and other campus employees in the use of concealed guns in case an armed intruder invades the campus.

"I think it's patently ridiculous,'' said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. "School funding is precious in California and we're going to take those precious dollars to have guns on campus? That's not what our schools need.'' As the father of a teenager in L.A. Unified, Pechthalt said, he would be concerned about having his child on a campus with gun-packing teachers.

He said school safety should be left to campus police and other well-trained law enforcement. Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers’ Assn., agrees.   "Putting more guns in schools is really not the way to go,'' Vogel said. ``Armed security should be left to the experts.''

    Donnelly indicated that union leaders aren't necessarily speaking for rank-and-file teachers. "I've heard from an awful lot of teachers who said `You know, I love this idea,' '' Donnelly told reporters at a Capitol news conference. He said the bill "empowers'' teachers to avoid being a victim of school violence. Still, the bill is unlikely to get far in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

    Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he also opposes using scarce school funding for Donnelly’s plan. “Diverting education dollars to militarize schools when we’re desperately trying to improve education and per-pupil funding is inconceivable and irresponsible," Steinberg said.


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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino). Credit: Anne Cusack /Los Angeles Times.