Imagine the following scenario. You awake in the middle of the night to a crashing sound downstairs. You hear strange voices.
You lock your bedroom door. You call 911. You whisper to the operator that someone has broken into you home.
You need help. Within a few minutes you hear sirens and see flashing lights reflecting off your window. The Sheriff’s deputies call out, identifying themselves.
The next few hours take forever. There are questions, lots of questions. As dawn breaks the officers wind up their investigation.
The ranking officer takes you aside. You ask if they’re going to catch the thief who violated your home and petrified your family.
It’s possible, he tells you, but says your best bet to ensure the guy never robs you again is to move away. Find a new home, new schools for the kids and new friends. Just make a clean break. Leave your problem behind.
But that’s what the legislature is proposing for another kind of violation — bullying.
House Bill 1 would provide private school vouchers for any student that is “bullied, harassed or hazed.”
If you think bullying isn’t becoming an increasingly ugly phenomenon in schools think again. According to the Department of Education, in the 2015-2016 school year there were 2,800 cases of bullying, 4,314 cases of threats and intimidation and 1,832 harassment reports.
At a glance, the bill seems sensitive and well-intentioned. Who wants to see a kid face that kind of torment?
But the truth is, it punishes the victim and rewards the perpetrator.
Does anyone imagine the bully will stop when his favorite victim runs? Or will he find another patsy for his game of control?
And truly, in today’s world, cyber-bullying is the preferred method of crushing self-esteem. Moving to a different school won’t help a bit. Today’s bullies can ply their trade anywhere, any time to an unlimited audience. And who determined that bullies don’t exist in private schools that, in general, have much less oversight than public schools?
The bill would provide a student a $7,000 voucher to attend a private school or $750 to pay for busing to another public school.
The estimated cost of HB 1 is as high as $40 million a year in these new “Hope Scholarships.”
The whole thing sounds dull-whitted. It is anything but — if you look behind the curtain.
Those who watch Tallahassee closely will tell you that the bill was concocted for one reason only — to allow House Speaker Richard Corcoran to pass even more public money into charter schools without his fingerprints showing up on the vouchers.
Nice try, but legislators need to shoot this thing down now.
How about this: Let’s, instead come up with something called “Dope Scholarships” — in which we pay vouchers to send the bullies to some of our failing public schools.
They may find the field of victims much less fertile there and may, in fact, find themselves on the hurting end of the bullying. That’s a lesson plan uniquely fitting for the students taking that new course.