Well, we now have a statewide “bullying law”. Mazel Tov.
Of course, we had a bullying law before. As noted in this Channel 5 interview with lawyer Christa Groshek,. it was 37 words long, and basically required school districts to have a bullying policy. Now, it’s 14 pages long.
Everyone Can Be A Victim!: The law specifies so many different “protected” classes that it’s really not specific at all; in addition to affectional orientation, religion, affectional orientation, race, affectional orientation, gender and affectional orientation, the bill “protects” people from bullying based on academic status, marital status, socioeconomic status, and…
Where was this law when I was a greasy-haired, acne-ridden, athletically-inept 14 year old? Oh, the fellow students – and not a few teachers – whose lives I could have ruined!
Intent Is In The Eye Of The Beholder: And it seems to do for “bullying” what sexual harassment laws did for sexual harassment; define “bullying” as “anything that makes anyone upset in any way.
And yes, I know bullying happens, and sometimes it’s incredibly serious, and in extreme circumstances kids kill themselves over it.
But combine this with the law’s anonymous notification provisions – which are necessary in some cases, obviously, but are an open invitation to abuse as well – with the fact that parental recourse is limited to the point of absurdity, and if you know anything about how public schools work these days, the “unintended consequences” will swerve quickly into absurdity.
Or litigation. Which, given the support the DFL gets from trial lawyers, can not in the least bit be an “unintended” consequence.
Make-Work: Along those lines; the previous bullying law left the mechanics of the policy to the individual districts.
The new law? It creates three levels of state bureaucracy above the districts to deal with “bullying”:
A Task Force, a Council and a “Center”.
I asked a gay activist on Twitter – who was clearly happy about the bill being signed into law, although he clearly understood little but Big Gay’s chanting points about the bill or its consequences – why he supported the new law. “Because we now have one policy for the whole state” was his main answer.
Liberals never realize – this is a bug, not a feature.
The further you remove policy from its implementation, the worse your policy will get. It’s true of healthcare, taxes – and in few areas more than education. It’s why charter schools (as a general model) are succeeding while the larger, urban and centralized-rural public systems are failing.
Parents Last: Another problem – and this may be the big one – is that if you’re a parent concerned about an accusation against your child, your rights are pretty much nonexistant.
Now, let’s be realistic; your rights are pretty much nonexistent in the public system, especially in the major urban districts, today; as I found out in my own Kafkaesque struggle with Saint Paul’s idiot administration, your “rights” as a parent are pretty much written to fit around the convenience and protection of the sitting Administration. If you think your child has been wrongly accused, or even just want to find out facts about this episode that is going on your child’s permanent record beyond “your child has been accused, convicted and sentenced; have a nice day”, the “process” is a passive-aggressive, sisyphean ordeal that pretty much requires you be a freaking amateur lawyer. Or, naturally, hire a professional one.
On the Upside: On the other hand, I can think of one upside to the new law; it’s excellent preparation for today’s modern university experience; it trains students to check their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door (or before interacting in any way with anyone that might go through that door with them); it’s excellent training for dealing with today’s speech codes.
So there’s that.
The Clinker, As Always: As I’ve noted in this space before, bullying has tended to go up after these laws are passed. Now, chalk it up to more-thorough reporting if you’d like – but anyone who expects a statewide policy and bureaucracy to “solve bullying” is in for a major disappointment.
Because setting policy – whether in a 37 word statement or a 14 page bill – is the easy part. Any idiot can do it, and the DFL majority proved it.
But here’s the bad news. Ask yourself this; who’s going to be carrying out the policy?
And while many school administrators mean well (and I’m talking about all of you out there that are friends of mine, whom I jointly and severally except from the following statement), a disturbing number of them are idiots, or worse.
Bureaucratic “policy” is, at its worst, an excuse for the not-bright, the stupid, the corrupt and the depraved to shrug their shoulders at things that would make any human with a living soul and any common sense leap to their feet in horror. Anti-violence “policy” routinely sweeps up the non-violent. Anti-sexual harassment policy, enforced by idiots, has results like this. “Zero Tolerance for Weapons” “policy” gives us this, and – on a more personal level, this (Part One and Part Two), in the hands of “administrators” who are, notwithstanding their PhDs are too stupid, in a just world, to hold any job at all. Even something as benign as a “pedagogical model” can be turned into an instrument of, dare I say, bullying – of students and their parents – by teachers and administrators who are focused on “policy” rather than “children”.
Which, increasingly, they – especially adminstrators – are.
Just saying – with today’s generation of toxic administrators, it’s smart to expect the unintended.
This law “solves” a problem that can’t be solved (beyond the extent to which previous law already did), by giving even more power to people who should have much, much less than they already do, from a bureacracy that makes sure they mis-use it with gusto!