Calif. Teachers Unions Endangering Kid's Lives

-By Warner Todd Huston

Reason Magazine explores the appalling situation in California where teachers unions were able to strongarm the legislature to deny teacher training for the use of Diastat, an anti-seizure drug meant to keep kids afflicted with epileptic conditions from dying in school.

The drug has been approved by the federal government to be administered by non-medical personnel through the delivery system approved and widely distributed, but teachers unions opposed this safe delivery system and the brief teacher training program. The unions claimed it was because they were trying to make sure that kids were “safe,” but the real reason is that the unions were just trying to increase the number of union member’s jobs in schools. Far from helping save kid’s live, the unions were trying to create jobs for themselves.

You see, the unions feared that if this drug were approved to be administered to afflicted kids by non-medical personnel then schools might fire school nurses. It isn’t about kid’s health. It’s about union jobs.

In politics everyone claims to be on the side of the children, but who really is? Pat DeLorenzo is a parent whose daughter suffers from epilepsy. Like roughly 10,000 other epileptic schoolchildren in California, eight-year-old Gianna suffers from the type of prolonged seizures that, without immediate attention, can result in brain damage or death. After witnessing the response of teachers and school nurses to one of his daughter’s life-threatening seizures, Pat DeLorenzo now believes that teachers and nurses care more about protecting union jobs than saving epileptic children.

DeLorenzo feared the worst when he receive a call from his daughter’s school, informing him that she had suffered a seizure. Gianna survived that day, but DeLorenzo was outraged that school administrators had not given his daughter Diastat, a drug that stops seizures before they do permanent harm and is FDA-approved for use by laypeople. Today many schoolchildren must wait until an ambulance brings them to a hospital before they receive Diastat. That’s much too long, says DeLorenzo who supports, SB 1051, a California bill that would allow trained non-medical volunteers to administer Diastat at schools.

Epilepsy advocates like the Epilepsy Foundation and physicians groups like the California Medical Association have lined up to support the bill. Unions representing teachers, nurses, and other public employees have lined up in opposition, claiming the bill would put children in danger. Their solution: hire more school nurses.

“The unions are not on the side of the kids,” says DeLorenzo who believes unions are more interested in expanding their ranks than protecting epileptic children.

“It’s exactly the opposite,” says Gayle McClean, southern section president of the California School Nurses Organization and a member of the California Teachers Association. “We care deeply for children and we want them to receive the most appropriate care and that means they need a licensed medical person caring for them.”

Sacramento lawmakers sided with unions and have refused to bring the bill up for a vote. The bill will officially expire on August 31.

“Union Jobs vs. Children’s Lives” is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Field Producers: Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmueller; Additional Camera: Austin Bragg, Production Associate: Sam Corcos.

Leave a comment