Monday, June 07, 2010

Jumping down the rabbit hole in Sacramento

Ya can't make this up #2: Somehow, the California Teachers Association thought it was a good idea to jump into the sewer with the CA Nurses Association and oppose a bill that would allow teachers to provide voluntary assistance to the 63,000 epileptic schoolchildren in the state who are at risk of literally DYING if they have a seizure at school and there's no nurse nearby (half of CA schools don't have a nurse on staff).  Here are two emails from a father of an epileptic child (who at one time was the COO of the CA Charter Schools Assoc.), with two articles below about how a humane, common-sense piece of legislation was derailed:

From: Fatheree, III, George C []
Sent: Friday, May 28, 2010 2:59 PM
Subject: FW: LA Times article about Clayton and an epilepsy bill


Apologies for the intrusion, but I just wanted to send a quick follow up on SB 1051, the bill that would have allowed a teacher to volunteer to administer emergency medication to a student having a potentially life threatening seizure.

Unfortunately, the bill died today in the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg refused to allow the Appropriations committee to vote on the bill.  To me, this is the most cowardice and undemocratic of defeats.  Rather than allow our representatives to give the bill an up or down vote, Senator Steinberg "shelved" bill so that it could never reach the Senate floor.  Further degrading was the public statement released by the Senator's office:

"Sen. Steinberg isn't convinced that it is wise to press cafeteria workers and bus drivers to provide invasive medical treatment to our kids."

Senator Steinberg's staff also told us that notwithstanding that the medication was designed and has been FDA approved for administration by non-medical persons, the Senator is introducing a new bill mandating that only certified medical personnel be allowed to give the medication.  This means that kids with epilepsy who attend a school with no nurse (only 50% of public schools in the state have a school nurse) could face risk of death or permanent brain damage if no one at their school site can administer the medication.

Our personal disappointment at the bill's defeat is eclipsed by what we've learned about how things work in Sacramento – voting for bills not on their merits, but based on the political affiliation of their authors and employing procedural gimmicks to kill bills rather than allowing them to be voted on by our elected officials.

On behalf of our family, we want to say thanks to everyone who called Senator Steinberg or their senator to express their support for the bill.  We will work to try and re-introduce and pass the bill next year,

The Fatheree's

From: Fatheree, III, George C (LAC)
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:51 AM
Subject: LA Times article about Clayton and an epilepsy bill


Here's an article by Steve Lopez from today's LA Times about a bill that Azita and I are trying to help pass through the State legislature.  The bill – SB 1051 – would allow school teachers to VOLUNTEER to administer a safe and very effective seizure medication in emergency situations to stop a very long seizure; it's basically the equivalent to allowing (but not requiring) a teacher to administer the Heimlich maneuver to a choking student.  (The bill also shields school personnel from any liability for administering or not administering the medication).

This is literally a bill that could save kids' lives and it is supported by many school districts throughout the state.  The bill is especially important for parents like me who send our kids to school each day with the fear that an unstopped seizure might take their child's life or cause irreparable brain damage (Clayton's first "status seizure" made him stop breathing and resulted in the loss of his hearing and serious brain damage).

Unfortunately, the nurses association and teachers unions are coming out in full-force against the bill – which they see as a threat to nursing jobs and a burden on teacher responsibilities.  Senators are under tremendous pressure to vote against the bill and it looks like it may be killed today or tomorrow.

If you're inclined, it could make a huge difference if you'd call Senator Darrell Steinberg (Senate President Pro Tem) at 916-651-4006 to let him know you support SB 1051.  I'm happy to provide more information if you'd like.

A bigger systematic issue is what's going on in Sacramento.  As you read in the article, I was told by a legislative aide that the bill would be a lot easier to support if it had a Democratic author.  I was shocked – this bill could save my kid's life, but our representatives might vote against it because of the political affiliation of its author?

We've got to figure out how to get things back on track with our government,


Jumping down the rabbit hole in Sacramento

Teachers and nurses unions oppose a bill that would allow non-medical school personnel to give a life-saving drug to epileptic children. The result? A healthcare bill to help kids appears to have little chance.

By Steve Lopez

May 26, 2010,0,407007.column

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