The Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act

THE PREVENTING HARMFUL RESTRAINT AND SECLUSION IN SCHOOLS ACT…. H.R. 4247, the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act, seemed like the kind of legislation that would enjoy broad support.

It focuses on school safety, and seeks to protect children from “physical or mental abuse,” and would ensure that “physical restraint and seclusion” of children would be limited to instances in which “a student’s behavior poses an imminent danger of physical injury” to the student or others. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), co-chair of the House Republican Conference, which should have bolstered the bill’s bipartisan appeal.

But, no.

You’d expect something like this to breeze through the House, but you’d be wrong. In the age of the Tea Party, even the most uncontroversial of legislative proposals are attacked by many Republicans in order to shore up their anti-statist bona fides. The majority of the Republican caucus voted against H.R. 4247 on the premise that issues of school safety is best left alone for the states to decide.

The bill was endorsed by the National Education Association, the National School Boards Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, and the National Disability Rights Network, among others. McMorris Rodgers gave an impassioned plea to her colleagues, responding to the concerns of her fellow Republicans, and voicing her concerns about her own special needs son being locked up or handcuffed to a chair.

It passed, but not before 145 Republicans (and eight Democrats) voted against it.

Watching Congress is not for the faint of heart.