Bill weighed down with strange ideas

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Apparently Christmas came very early in the Mississippi House Thursday as lawmakers hung all sorts of ornaments on Gov. Haley Barbour’s education bill &045;&045; but there are some very strange additions indeed.

The barely recognizable bill now has amendments that would force parents in low-ranked districts to agree to keep their children from watching television or listening to &uot;nasty&uot; music.

Lower-ranking school districts would also have to separate classes by gender and require students to wear uniforms.

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Another amendment would guarantee that children learn about nutrition during school.

While some of these ideas might work, there is absolutely no way to legislate such behavior &045;&045; and it is unfair to single out the lower-ranking districts for such behavior. Whatever &uot;nasty&uot; music might be, it’s likely that students in school districts across the state, no matter what grades they make, are listening to it.

Perhaps there were some good intentions behind some of these ideas, and in an ideal world maybe they’d work, but we can’t help but think the real reason such bizarre amendments passed is that the House wants to dismantle any proposal of Barbour’s, no matter whether it has merit or not.

Barbour’s UpGrade plan has some valid proposals, including giving local school districts more flexibility in setting opening and closing dates for the school year.

The House version of the education bill heads now to conference committee, where it’s likely many of the changes will disappear.

In the meantime, though, lawmakers have wasted some valuable time &045;&045; and perhaps thrown away a chance at some important changes because partisanship once again got in the way of governing.