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State Journal: Armed educators?; Graduation plans

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Armed Educators?

Utah school officials are fighting a new concealed-weapons law that they say makes it legal for teachers and other staff members to tote weapons into the classroom.

An earlier state law barred weapons at school, Doug Bates, the state education agency's top lawyer, told a legislative panel last month. The law passed last year allows licensed individuals to carry guns "without restriction"--a provision that Mr. Bates, a former police officer, said could disrupt the peace in schools.

"That's not the place where you want to have the shootout at the OK Corral," Mr. Bates said in an interview. "It should be reasonable for a school board to decide that staff should not pack weapons."

Its backers argue that amending the law would abridge citizens' rights to bear arms. The legislature has adjourned, but could take up the issue next year.

Graduation Plans

Teachers angry at Gov. Christine Todd Whitman plan to demonstrate this month during her graduation address at a northern New Jersey high school-- to the consternation of many school board members, administrators, parents, students, and even fellow teachers.

The governor plans to speak June 26 at the Wayne Hills High School commencement in Wayne, N.J. Leaders of the local teachers' union want to use the occasion to protest her policies, including funding cuts, changes to the state's teacher-pension system, and support of publicly funded vouchers for private schools.

"Our feeling is that the governor must not be allowed to pose as a friend of education while her programs at the state level are helping to destroy excellence," said Charles T. Tucker, president of the 660-member Wayne Education Association.

He said any protest would be low-key and is subject to approval by union members in an upcoming vote.

Superintendent Raymond V. Kwak said that the district has barred the union from marching on school property and that teachers who violate the ban do so "at their own risk."

"It's unfortunate they would choose to use the graduation ceremonies, which are really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these kids, for political purposes," Mr. Kwak said.

--Drew Lindsay & Caroline Hendrie

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