OC Political

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Norby Notes 8 – Common-Sen​se Discipline & Resilient Red Tape

Posted by Newsletter Reprint on April 21, 2012

This came over the wire from Assemblyman Chris Norby’s office on Wednesday…

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Norby Notes

This Issue

Common-Sense Discipline

When does an innocent high school prank become a misdemeanor? When does childish horseplay become assault? When does a playground insult become a hate crime? When does a friend offering a classmate an aspirin for a headache become a drug offense?

Many forms of behavior long tolerated in public schools have become rigidly regulated and even criminalized. Efforts to improve campus safety have led to legislative micromanaging of school behavioral rules and the involvement of local police in incidents that were long handled internally.

I serve as Vice-Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, which heard a number of bills last week relating to the effects of so-called “zero-tolerance” policies on students, and what direction the Legislature should take.

For the record, public schools in California are safer than they’ve been in decades. Just since 2000, actual serious crimes on K-12 public school campuses have fallen by 50%. Harsher and more uniform discipline policies may be a reason, but they have had a disparate impact on certain students. Boys, especially, are stigmatized by a system that increasingly demonizes what was once considered normal behavior. A playground scuffle between two 10 year-olds was traditionally broken up by a teacher who had the boys dust off and shake hands. Now, there may be mandatory school suspensions and even police intervention.

While laudable efforts have focused on opportunities for girls in the classroom and on the athletic fields, it is now the boys who are falling behind. Last year, boys made up only 43% of the incoming freshmen in the Cal State system, a proportion that continues to drop.

Order must be balanced with opportunity, arbitrary codes with common sense. A three-day suspension of unsupervised TV at home doesn’t help anyone, least of all the school. As a former classroom teacher, as a parent, and as a legislator, these issues hit close to home. There are no easy answers, but we still must ask why too many kids are falling through the cracks.

Resilient Red Tape

My bill (AB 1810) to abolish the California State Upholstery License failed by one vote to get out of committee yesterday. Not one person showed up to defend the requirement. The Department of Consumer Affairs administers the license. Nobody from that department objected to the bill, either to my office or before the committee.

My staff had polled professional upholstery businesses in Orange County and found that 67% had never even heard of the license. Of the rest, only 17% actually had such a license, and few of those thought it necessary. Market competition is far more effective than bureaucratic regulations in assuring the quality of upholstery for our cars and living rooms. California is one of only 14 other states to have such a license.

Yet, the partisan divide is such that Democrats too often instinctively oppose any Republican bill that rolls back any state program, however useless and archaic the program may be. The bill fell short in the Business and Professions Committee, with every Democrat except Fiona Ma (San Francisco) voting “no.” The State Upholstery License lives on!

Question of the Week

Last Week’s Question: What was the original name of San Francisco?

Answer: Yerba Buena.

This Week’s Question: What is the smallest Cal State University campus?

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Sacramento, CA 95814
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