Local control

From time to time, someone gets a great idea for something that ought to be taught in the public schools. They suggest it to their legislator, and before you know it there’s a new “mandate” on the books.

Teen suicide is a terrible thing. So: require the schools to teach a course discouraging suicide. Young people don’t seem well versed on the Constitution and Bill of Rights? Ignore the fact this is already the history teacher’s job: Mandate a new course. Sex education? If parents seem to steer clear of the subject, require the schools to teach it.

Each individual mandate surely seemed like a good idea, in isolation. But, “What is relevant in Clark or Washoe may not be in Lincoln or Esmeralda,” argues state Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon. And, “Many times there aren’t enough minutes in the school day to have all these mandates taught.”

So Sen. McGinnis has submitted a bill draft for the 2011 Legislature, proposing to “remove certain state mandates on schools.”

The senator says he hasn’t gone through the list yet to specify which micro-managed mandates would be removed; he just wants to leave it up to each local school district to “make the decision on if it is relevant to them or not.”

Fewer top-down mandates? Increased local control, allowing each district to craft a curriculum best suited to its own students, without stealing time away from the “three r’s”?

Given that this is so eminently sensible, the special interests behind each mandate can be expected to dig in their heels and shriek that anyone voting for such increased local autonomy is “in favor of teen suicide” or “wants to see more teen pregnancies.”

Here’s hoping Sen. McGinness sticks by his guns. Set the schools free.

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