Saturday, January 28, 2017

Are Republicans The Party Of Local Control? Not When It Comes To Schools In South Dakota, Apparently

     This year's legislative session in South Dakota, dominated overwhelmingly, as usual, by my fellow Republicans is surely going out of its way to get us locals to do their centrally controlled bidding, at least when it comes to our schools.  I mean, some of the coercive bills that a few of these Republicans are advancing in their determination to have all of South Dakota's localities dance to their ideological tunes makes a
How We Teach Science
Is A Local Decision
laughingstock out of our GOP's historic commitment to letting people run their own lives and institutions on a local level.  

     That particularly sacrosanct principle applies to education. The 2016 GOP national platform specifically says that as Republicans, "we reject a one-size-fits-all approach to education and support a broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level."  Get that, South Dakota Republican legislators?  The GOP supports a broad range of choices.  Taking choices away from our local school districts and the boards that run them is the stuff of a party that wants to hypocritically insert itself into people's local affairs.
     A couple of irritating examples of this come quickly to mind.  The first is Senate Bill 55, which will require schools in the state to let teachers teach anything they deem "scientific" to their students in an "objective scientific manner." The unlimited potential for academic mayhem inherent to the nebulous language of this bill (you could make a case for witchcraft being taught as science, for example) is one thing, but that the bill brings the heavy-handed mandate of the state into classroom content decisions goes against every principle of local control that Republicans cherish. Why have school boards when the powers in Pierre want to impose decisions like this?                                                                                                                                  
     Another effort to mandate the operations of our schools has to do with firearms.  This one,
Will It Come To This?
It Could, Per SB 89

(Thanks, Pat Oliphant)
Senate Bill 89, lumps our schools in with every "public entity" in the state, and would make schools liable for civil damages if "a person who is unable to carry a firearm due to prohibition" on their premises were injured by a crime of violence.  If this bill passes, your local school board would be pressured by the state into making a decision about allowing teachers, staff, students, visitors, everybody, to carry firearms on campus. Given the craziness that's been abounding on campuses all over the country in recent years, this is a decision that merits some consideration, my personal feelings notwithstanding.  School boards should indeed be thinking about this--but they should be making the decision without the burden of civil liability law imposed on them by the State of South Dakota.  If the state wants to make the law apply to state-owned facilities, fine.  But our local public schools?  No way this Republican can accept that kind of coercion from the State of South Dakota, where GOP dominators have abandoned the self-limiting principles that used to define their party.  



  1. As usual, a home run by South Dakota's premiere non partisan political blogger.

  2. At first blush, it's as though our legislators are unaware their actions on another front (IM22) have garnered national attention. They are after all, playing in what might be considered the political bush leagues. That said, what if these folks take this scrutiny as an opportunity to audition for prime time? What others consider half-baked, if not an outright betrayal of party values, may well count as thinking outside the box to a certain vocal segment of the Republican coalition. Principles, once thought immutable, are being increasingly called into question. It might even be said, the times they are a-Changin'. (Yes, I'm that old.)

  3. John, they only favor local control when suits their agenda, any other time not so much.