A proposal meant to put more armed guards in Tennessee schools has begun moving forward in the General Assembly. It offers money for schools to hire retired police officers and allows teachers with law enforcement backgrounds to carry a gun to class.
Whether a retired officer hired part-time as a security guard or a teacher already on the payroll, both would have to go through at least 40 hours of special training.
The legislation has the backing of Governor Bill Haslam and has trumped other proposals aimed at more broadly allowing teachers to go armed to class.
Some Republicans still want to mandate armed guards in every school, but others say the only reason they support this bill is because it doesn’t. Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville says schools aren’t as dangerous as they’re made out to be.
Some state lawmakers believe the Tennessee General Assembly may have gone too far with cost-cutting when it wiped out oversight committees looking out for children.
Governor Bill Haslam was asked whether he supports a push by Democrats to reestablish the panel that looked over the troubled Department of Children’s Services.
“You can’t have 133 bosses. That doesn’t work. But having said that, there is a legitimate role for legislative oversight, and we’d love to be a part of that conversation about what that should look like going forward," said the Governor.
Haslam says the debate should be about more than DCS.
The sponsor of legislation that was competing with Gov. Bill Haslam's to create a school voucher program withdrew her bill on Wednesday after proponents of a broader program decided they want to focus on the governor's plan.
The measure withdrawn by Sen. Dolores Gresham from the Senate Education Committee sought to increase the income limit for eligibility to about $75,000 for a family of four, up quite a bit from the $42,643 envisioned by the Republican governor.
The bill also had no limitation on growth, where Haslam proposes to limit the program to 5,000 students in failing schools in the academic year that begins in August, and grow to 20,000 by 2016.
Gresham, a Somerville Republican and chair of the committee, didn't give a reason for withdrawing the bill but told reporters after the hearing that she may bring it up again before the end of the session.