Eye On Illinois: New school policies won’t prevent all problems, but worth trying


Policies don’t inherently prevent problems, they primarily provide recourse. But that truth doesn’t mean such efforts are wasted.

Consider two pieces of legislation moving through the General Assembly. House Bill 3425, which has already cleared both chambers, is the “anti-bullying bill” requiring schools to give parental notice of alleged bullying incidents within 24 hours. Senate Bill 90, which the Education Committee advanced to the full Senate, stipulates “each school district, charter school or nonpublic, nonsectarian elementary or secondary school must create, implement and maintain a policy on discrimination and harassment based on race, color, or national origin and retaliation.”

Many schools have well established programs for reducing bullying or being proactive about inclusion and tolerance. It’s hard to quantify when such efforts make a difference in the hearts and minds of individual kids, although at the district and region level there surely have been countless meetings and reports about what “works.”

Scott T. Holland

Scott T. Holland

Still, and I try not to come off as a crank when I say this, if some kid wants to call another kid fat or ugly or weak or just shake them down for lunch money, well, it’s probably going to happen and all the language in the school handbook mostly establishes the roadmap for what happens next.

This is perhaps rich coming from someone who writes frequently about addressing root causes of societal challenges before they tax whatever part of the government intervenes at the crisis point. (As in, if we figure out how to address low wages and employment opportunities we might relieve some burdens on criminal justice, housing assistance, child and family services, public health and food aid and so much more.)

But even in those instances reformers understand there are no failsafe solutions. That doesn’t mean you don’t do the work, nor do the successes lose value just because certain problems persist. The goal is improving what we can, where we can, and viewed in that light these new school efforts are at least worth the attempt.

MAILBAG: Reader A.O. of Fox River Grove responded to a May 3 column discussing DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek’s statements about April election turnout, notably her quote: “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of citizens to participate in democracy.”

A.O., echoing similar suggestions from other readers, wrote: “Reminds me a lot of the saying, ‘If everyone is responsible, no one is.’ The election process is really a team effort involving election officials, candidates and voters. Each has an important role. Be great if all the County Clerks would create one-stop websites for each election listing all the candidates and the info they wish to submit so voters didn’t have to search for it and could make more informed choices.”

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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May 10, 2023 at 05:19AM

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