How far should teachers go in saving the life of a child? How far should unions go in demanding an expansion of nursing positions in school? Caught between these two positions are children like Gianna DeLorenzo, an epileptic whose seizures could cause brain damage and death unless treated immediately with Diastat, an FDA-approved drug that comes in FDA-approved suppository syringes that lay people can easily learn to operate. In California, however, unions banded together to fight a bill that would have allowed teachers to get trained in its use, claiming that Diastat is unsafe in the hands of non-medical personnel — and the state legislature sided with the unions. Reason TV explores the controversy:
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.
If the FDA signed off on the use of the drug and the syringe by non-medical personnel with just a little training, then why did the state legislature take the word of the unions on its safety? Unlike one union rep who testified in Sacramento, I think most teachers can spot the difference between an anus and a vagina, and if they can’t, I’d say California needs to impose some stricter hiring and retention standards for their schools. If they are really that incompetent at basic anatomy, then the teachers present a much bigger safety problem while in custody of children than just when holding a Diastat syringe. This does, however, put a whole new spin on not being able to find one’s own rear with two hands and a flashlight, a concept exemplified by the witnesses for the opposition.
I think we all know why the unions really object, and it’s not because (as one sign states) that children are their “special interest group.” They want to use the life-and-death situation to expand their membership.