It was a bad week at the legislature if you’re a parent, a student, a school administrator, a school board member, or a taxpayer. On Wednesday, House Democrats voted to pass the so-called “Safe and Supportive Schools Act” and sent it to Governor Dayton’s desk for his signature. We all know that bullying is a problem in schools and that no child should be bullied for any reason. Unfortunately, this new law takes our state completely in the wrong direction to address this issue.
I fear this new law will bring more problems than solutions. Classrooms should be a place where students can feel comfortable to express their point of view. Instead, this law will stifle our students’ free speech for fear of another student anonymously reporting their comments as offensive enough to constitute bullying. Even worse, there is no requirement that a parent be notified if a student is accused of bullying or is a victim of bullying. How can we even begin to address the issue of bullying without getting parents involved?
I’m also a strong believer in local control. We elect members to school boards for a reason – to implement policies that fit with a particular school district. By usurping the authority of locally-elected school boards, the legislature is empowering St. Paul to become a statewide school board with vast authority over local districts. Parents and students – not to mention those who work every day to provide our kids with an education – deserve better.
The ugly side of politics also reared its head this week. It’s no secret that Senate Democrats have been yearning for new office space. On Friday, April 4, House Democrats approved an $89,594,175.00 project for a glamorous new office building for state senators. In exchange, House Democrats got what they wanted – imposing an increase in the minimum wage – and passed it on Thursday. It’s a shame that young workers and those with part-time jobs will be the hardest hit by job loss simply because Senate Democrats want a new cushy office building. Minnesotans should expect better of their leaders.
As always, I’m interested in your feedback. Please feel free to contact me by e-mail at Rep.Peggy.Scott@House.MN or contact my office at 651-296-4231. You can also send me mail to my office address: 201 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.