Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weapons of mass distraction

Illusionists - from the rich and famous like David Copperfield to the 3-card monte scammers on the corner - know that the secret of their trade is distraction. Get the mark looking away for an instant while the switch is made.

That surely must be what Gov. Bobby Jindal has in mind with his new attack on educators, reported
here by Monroe News-Star reporter Ken Stickney. With all that's going wrong in the state, the governor declared that making new laws about teachers abusing children is a major legislative priority.

Don't get us wrong, sexual abuse of a child is awful, no matter who does it, be it teacher, preacher, scoutmaster, parent or relative (and in this case, Jindal's only focus is on public school teachers). But the fact is, we have an abundance of laws, both state and federal, to deal with sexual predators, including teachers. And those who are caught pay a heavy price, including prison, loss of teaching credentials and huge civil settlements.

The truth is that more laws won't stop predators, who do what they do because of an overwhelming compulsion. The focus should, instead, be on increasing awareness, improving methods of detection, and better education about the importance of reporting abuse.

Those have no value to a demagogue, however. For whatever his real reason, whether to distract attention from real problems, or to further demonize public education, we should understand that the governor's proposal has little to do with the protection of children.

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