H.R. 5295 Update
The Drug Policy Alliance reports:
The Student Teacher Safety Act of 2006 (HR 5295) would require any school receiving federal funding--essentially every public school--to adopt policies allowing teachers and school officials to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Saying they suspect that one student might have drugs could give officials the authority to search every student in the building.(link via TalkLeft)
DPA supporters and others who opposed this outrageous bill called their members of Congress this week to express their disapproval. However, House leaders circumvented the usual legislative procedure to bring the bill to a quick vote. It did not pass through the committee process, but went straight to the House floor. There, it was passed by a simple voice vote, so constituents cannot even find out how their Representative voted.
The bill moves next to the Senate, but it is unlikely to be considered there this session.
H.R. 5295 passed under suspension of the rules, meaning that it required a two-thirds vote. It's disappointing that so few Democrats had the guts to oppose it. However, it's important to remember that under Democratic control, this type of legislation would probably be allowed to die quietly in committee.
This kind of legislation illustrates why federal funding of education is a bad idea. As Mr. Voshell, my high school history teacher often said, "Whence comes money comes control." The search policy that H.R. 5295 would mandate would be tied to federal money. When schools take federal money, they have to play by federal rules.
Please take a few minutes to let your U.S. senators know that you oppose this intrusive, authoritarian legislation. Tell them to vote no on H.R. 5295. Contacting the Congress makes it easy to find your senators' contact information.