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MN anti-bullying bill could have unintended consequences

Minnesota’s Senate recently passed an anti-bullying bill, which has opponents concerned about unintended consequences.

The bill, proposed in response to a large number of bullying-related suicides in the state, would make it illegal for students to bully other students for certain reasons spelled out in the bill.

“The worry is that some students will be living in fear of misspeaking. It’s one of those things that seems well-intended, but we don’t know how it could possibly be abused,” said Chris D. of Choice Media.

“Once you start carving out you really can’t bully for this reason, and you really can’t bully for this other reason, then you’ll be endlessly carving out new reasons you can’t bully people for,” Bob Bowden, executive director of Choice Media, said. “One 13-year-old is stealing lunch money from another 13-year-old, and there’s a legislator in the state capital who’s going to make sure that that stops? I don’t know what these laws do quite frankly.”

Bowden and guest Erik Telford, senior vice president of the Franklin Center for Public Integrity, said school choice laws would allow schools to make their own common-sense responses to bullying, tailored to their individual schools and school environments.

Top-down approaches are unlikely to work well, they said. Bowden said it would be difficult for a blanket policy to cover the entire problem.

“Will there be new provisions to stop bullying people with acne, and another one to stop bullying people who are short, and another one to stop bullying people who talk in an accent?” Bowden said. “It could go on forever.”

Choice Media discussed other education issues with Telford, including a push by Pennsylvania teachers to keep seniority rules, Georgia parents suing the state over a private school scholarship program and Newark students permitted to skip classes to attend a union-organized protest against increasing charter school funding.

Contact Mary C. Tillotson at

Part of 87 in the series Educating America

1. Arizona mom won’t give up on special needs kids, no matter what state says

2. Reviving a 1970s lawsuit, DOJ would keep black students in failing schools

3. Relocating sexually abusive teachers would be more difficult under Pennsylvania bill

4. DOJ backpedals on Louisiana voucher lawsuit

5. Court says charter schools won’t pay for Atlanta’s pension debts

6. Biggest education impact from shutdown? Furloughed bureaucrats

7. Appeals court upholds Arizona school choice program

8. Indiana’s voucher program expands; diversity a factor in one family’s choice of school

9. ‘Vouchers don’t do much good for students’ claim is false

10. NYC mayor’s race could affect school choice

11. Vermont public school goes independent, raises ire from state bureaucracy

12. Arizona education savings accounts aren’t vouchers, study says

13. Legal institute fights Alabama union’s attempt to repeal school tax credit

14. Experts: School choice improves education in public schools

15. SC school-choice program helps special needs kids, could expand

16. DOJ wants Louisiana parents out of voucher lawsuit

17. U.S. House passes bill to prevent ‘passing the trash’

18. ‘Non-traditional’ journalists barred from viewing tax-funded test results early

19. New center hopes to help charter schools help kids with special needs

20. Charter school advocate to Philadelphia schools: Listen to parents

21. $45 million not enough for Philadelphia teachers’ union

22. Study: Rhode Islanders support school choice

23. Study: Choice would help failing Chicago schools

24. Scholarships could lift SC school dedicated to real-life, hands-on learning

25. Parents make good school choices, study says

26. Divisive charter school reform bill headed toward vote in PA

27. In Louisiana school voucher lawsuit, DOJ changes gears

28. Opponents sue Washington to overturn charter school law

29. School choice proponents’ challenge? Educating parents

30. Judge: Federal oversight may not hamper school voucher program

31. PA lawmakers push to amend tight teacher furlough policies

32. College ready: A Milwaukee inner-city school success story

33. Proposed economic furloughs could slay sacred cow of seniority in Pennsylvania schools

34. What is Massachusetts doing right?

35. Goldwater to appeal Louisiana school voucher decision

36. Want to end poverty? Educate the kids

37. Breakdown in Philly schools not only about the money

38. North Carolina scholarship program on firm legal footing, attorney argues

39. Philadelphia school district threatens charters

40. Belief in student ability key to success at Milwaukee charter school

41. Three things to know about Philadelphia’s school budget: Debt, pensions and safety

42. Choosing to sue: Here’s a look at some 2013 lawsuits involving school choice

43. Philly charter schools outperform district counterparts

44. California students sue state over ineffective teachers

45. Study: Public supports parent choice in education

46. Under new management, Philly Renaissance Schools show growth

47. New Orleans tops school choice index

48. AZ to consider four school-choice expansion bills

49. Florida family ‘blessed’ to be apart of scholarship program

50. PA lawmakers put education at top of agenda in election year

51. Louisiana: Feds ‘more interested in skin color than … education’

52. Charter school for Philadelphia foster children will not be renewed

53. Governor ties proposed PA education funding to targeted grants

54. WA’s first charter school serves children, families of ‘extreme poverty’

55. Vermont attempts to take independence from independent schools

56. Philly stumbles on way to simplifying enrollment system

57. Plan for Philly schools keeps charters in check

58. Missouri ballot initiative would increase funding for public, private schools

59. New York charter school focuses on family, community

60. NC school vouchers on hold

61. WI voucher bill would help special needs students denied open enrollment

62. Philadelphia schools will end another year in red

63. PA universities expect state, students to pick up tab on rising tuition

64. Two ESA bills get House support in AZ

65. Thousands rally to support New York charter schools

66. California’s defense begins in Vergara trial

67. Accountability or overregulation? Charter supporters split over Minnesota bill

68. PA considers empowering universities to authorize charter schools

69. Bill would make Florida students eligible for scholarships

70. To test or not to test? Florida school choice proponents split

71. Philly school district broke, but the pay is good

72. Philadelphia charter school sues public school district

73. Colorado Supreme Court to hear school voucher case

74. Vermont to reconsider education funding formula

75. Arizona Supreme Court allows school choice program to stand

76. Massachusetts charter school bill revived

77. Quality schools matter more than racial integration, black leaders say

78. FL again takes up school-choice bill

79. Choice Media’s videocast tackles host of education issues

80. Ending teacher seniority rules beyond Philly requires legislative action

81. New website helps Detroit parents choose schools

82. Philly schools caught on funding merry-go-round

83. Louisiana bill would coordinate school choice programs

84. New D.C. charter school lottery eases but doesn’t eliminate waiting lists

85. Federal bill attempts to help replicate high-quality state charter schools

86. Philadelphia schools awaiting taxes from city, state

87. ACLU alleges discrimination in 138 NJ districts

88. MN anti-bullying bill could have unintended consequences


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