Archived Story

Editorial: A state bullying bill won’t solve the problem

Published 9:17am Friday, April 5, 2013

There is a bill at the Minnesota Senate and another in the Minnesota House of Representatives with good intentions to prevent bullying in schools in our fair state by legislating the issue away.

That just won’t happen. And in the meantime, Democrats once again will look like they are just throwing money at an issue.

Look, bullying is a major concern, no doubt, and this newspaper has produced reams of stories and opinions on the issue. We want bullying gone, just like the state leaders do. No one is in favor of bullying.

The proposed legislation wants to create some sort of “school climate center” in the state Department of Education and it requires all sorts of new rules, regulations and mandated reporting systems.

However, Minnesota already has a layer of government bureacracy dedicated to halting, limiting and preventing bullying. They are called school districts.

The oversight of the matter of bullying belongs at the local level. There is little to nothing that some administrators in St. Paul can do to prevent bullying in Albert Lea. There is a lot that adminstrators in Albert Lea can do to prevent bullying on a case-by-case basis, and the new law wants to treat bullying as though one size fits all.

Truly, it is an overreach if there ever was one, and it more than likely is an overreaction to incidents in a single school district in 2012. But every day in many school districts statewide, bullying is addressed successfully, without getting any attention from the news media and state lawmakers. After all, nearly all people who get into education do so because they care a whole lot about kids.

Producing unfunded mandates that require time and funds from cash-strapped local schools is tantamount to passing a tax on property owners.

Weren’t the Democrats the ones who came into office in 2012 calling for property-tax relief?

Let’s hope the momentum behind this measure fades before it mistakenly passes into law. Let’s hope lawmakers realize that often the best way to address a problem is to let local government do its job.