Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘civics’

Put an end to frivolous state legislation

Posted by sanityinjection on March 15, 2010

It happens every year and in every state in America. Some well-meaning but clueless teacher wants to instruct their class about civics and how a bill becomes a law. They hit on the genius idea of having the class write a petition to their state legislature for passage of a new law. So far, so good.

The problem is that the teachers are keen to avoid having their class tackle any controversial issues, and rightly so: they do not want to be accused of pushing any particular political agenda on the kids. So they settle on the most innocuous thing they can think of, and it’s almost always the same: designating an official state food/drink/dessert.

So what’s wrong with that, you ask? At first glance nothing, until you realize that state legislatures end up having to file paperwork and hold hearings on as many as a dozen such petitions every year. Then you have situations like Vermont, where two schools filed competing suggestions for the state’s official beverage.

These bills are a waste of time and money for legislators, their staff, and taxpayers. They delay consideration of important legislation. Worse, they give children the message that laws are frivolous and that legislators have nothing better to do than worry about what should be the official state dessert – only to become cynical when even that appears to be excessively time-consuming.

If any teachers, or family members of teachers are reading this, I ask you to please spread the word to stop these pointless petitions. You would be furious if, during a snowstorm, your city or town’s snowplows took time out to make donuts in the parking lot to show kids how the plow works. Well, I’ve got news for you – in the world of government, with the economy the way it is, it’s snowing. Our legislatures are too easily distracted from focusing on what’s important as it is – please don’t make it worse out of a misguided attempt to educate children.

Instead, why not encourage each child to find a bill of their choice that is already pending in the state or federal legislature and write a letter supporting or opposing it? (Most legislatures post bills online.) The children will probably receive personalized notes back from their legislators.

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