Gather around, kids, and let me unveil several of the more revealing pieces of North Carolina state legislation to hit the proverbial fan so far this year.
Let’s get right to the good stuff.
We have a new sheriff in these parts. He is known to some as William “Wild Bill” Cook. The gentleman I’m referring to is, of course, our new state senator from the 1st District, and he is a product of beautiful Beaufort County. Thanks, Beaufort.
Cook campaigned for office on a platform that might well be adequately symbolized by a wrecking ball. He wishes highway maintenance and construction funds to be allocated according to population, as opposed to the current equity system. This will leave the more densely populated piedmont sitting pretty, while the more thinly populated eastern counties will be required to — of necessity — reacquaint themselves with wagon ruts. He would gut public schools in order to establish a charter school system — despite the fact that charter schools have yet to be proven as an efficient — or even cost effective — alternative to the current public school system.
Cook is an active supporter of the current movement afoot to scrap the corporate and personal income tax system in favor of a steeply regressive sales tax system. I realize that both of those sound great, but the reality will be cruel indeed for working-class families. He is also a proponent of the environmentally disastrous fracking and offshore drilling measures. Can you light the tap water coming out of your spigot yet? If not, hang tight. Odds are you’ll be able to sooner, rather than later.
But the dubiousness of these positions pales next to a bill he proposed this week.
Senator Cook wants nothing less than to introduce the Wild West into the classrooms of North Carolina. Slap leather, you long-eared galoot! (Sorry, that was Yosemite Sam. I had intended to invoke John Wayne).
Senator Cook, not satisfied with another bill that would designate certain school system employees as armed “marshals” wants to introduce an alternative bill that would facilitate classroom teachers packing heat. You read that correctly. He wants to arm teachers — all of them — from kindergarten on up. Did you ever have your knuckles whacked by a teacher when you were a kid? I sure did. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. I’m trying to imagine what the experience might have been like if the teacher had been wearing a Colt .45 strapped to her hip. Come to think of it, it might have improved my attitude at that.
But all kidding aside, is this what we really want — armed elementary school teachers? Don’t teachers have enough responsibility within their classrooms — arming our children with the knowledge that will carry them through life — without turning them into sharpshooters? Yes, what Cook proposes would ostensibly be voluntary, but the reality is that all teachers would find themselves pressured into bearing arms in open class. What kind of message would this send our children? Might makes right? Never bring a Sharpie to a gunfight? And what about the first time a teacher cracks under the pressure and guns down a student. It’s possible – perhaps even probable, given a perfect storm of negative circumstances.
My favorite quote regarding this issue comes courtesy of Camden Superintendent of Schools Melvin Hawkins. “Personally and professionally” Hawkins opined, “I believe that all teachers need to be armed – they need to be armed with the best tools and resources available to teach each child they are entrusted with teaching.”
Hear, hear, Mr. Hawkins. That is a most sensible outlook. I feel certain that it is echoed by the majority of classroom teachers all over North Carolina.
Increased school security is a definite concern, but we must not place the burden on educators. Other alternatives include armed security personnel at individual schools, and — here’s a thought — sensible gun laws. If you wish to give teachers something to shoot at, why not deposit most (if not all) of the current standardized testing forms at the receiving end of a shooting range. Now you’re getting somewhere.
The other proposed bill is more frivolous on the face of it — but no less disturbing. Let me say up front that I have no intention of delving into the issue of topless females. Being male, I can only injure myself — perhaps irreparably.
But bill H34, currently before the legislature, would make toplessness a felony, punishable by prison.
It would appear that our state legislators have a little time on their hands.