If taxpayers wonder why federal budgets have ballooned over the last few decades, look no further. Riding the coattails of one of the few issues on which Barack Obama has willingly engaged, a House Democrat has proposed making school bullies a federal jurisdiction:
While the Department of Education continues its crackdown on mean-spirited taunting on Facebook, some members of Congress are joining the fight in Washington’s War on Bullying with a new bill aimed directly at kids who target students with disabilities.
Rep. Jackie Speier, California Democrat, will introduce a bill that would require schools to report incidents of bullying against children diagnosed with conditions like Down syndrome and Aspergers to the federal government. It would also mandate that any federal dollars that promote anti-bullying programs focus partially on that group.
“There is [currently] no requirement that as part of the anti-bullying curriculum, that there be made specific reference to children with special needs. That’s particularly dumb,” Speier said during a briefing on school bullying on Capitol Hill Wednesday. “What I want to do is create an environment where there is zero tolerance. I think that starts first with education and awareness. Then, when behavior is egregious, then people have to be called out on that.”
Speier’s part of the minority and will have a tough time getting her bill to a floor vote, unless of course Republicans decide to join in on expanding federal authority. And why not? If they do, they get to say that they’re trying to protect the defenseless against victimization. If they don’t, then Speier and her allies in Congress and the media will paint the GOP as heartless, and perhaps secretly indebted to the all-powerful bullying lobby.
Of course, that’s ridiculous. Everyone knows that public-employee unions back Democrats.
Seriously, though, what part of this transaction has any federal jurisdiction at all? Not the schools, which operate through local school boards, buried under federal mandates as they are. Not the disabled, whose citizenship does not transcend local communities and states in the manner that military personnel and federal workers might in a legal sense. The bullies are certainly not federally funded. Assaults and batteries are crimes that don’t require federal intervention in other contexts. So why would anyone in Congress propose creating an entirely new federal bureaucracy to tally and track bullies in schools who pick on the disabled, among other kids?
If public schools aren’t competent to deal with these situations, then that is a problem for the school boards, parents, and the community … and a great argument for school vouchers. Meanwhile, Speier’s caucus couldn’t even pass a budget with a 77-seat majority last year in what was their primary jurisdiction. Why should we trust them to take on entirely new jurisdictions? And shouldn’t Congress be focused on budgets before looking for new vistas to expand federal powers anyway?