Thursday, December 29, 2005
Cunningham bill would mean even more paperwork for schools
State Representative Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, has pre-filed two education-related bills that seem to have no purpose other than to continue her pro-voucher agenda.
Ms. Cunningham, unfortunately, does have pull in the legislature, since she is chairman of the powerful Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, a post she received after campaigning for it by noting the amount of campaign donations she has been able to bring to state Republicans from out-of-state voucher proponents.
HB 1196 would require an entire new system to be set up to notify parents about school-sponsored clubs and extracurricular activities and allow parents to withhold permission for their children to participate in these clubs.
Am I mistaken or haven't parents always had the option of not allowing their children to take part in any activity?
Ms. Cunningham's bill would require school officials to place the following in the annual handbooks:
-(1) For school-sponsored clubs, the name of the club, mission, or purpose of the club, the name of the club's faculty advisor, and a description of past or planned activities;
-2) For extracurricular activities, the mission or purpose of the extracurricular activity, name of the faculty advisor, and a description of planned programs or actions.
The next part of the bill makes even less sense (and that is saying a lot):
"Each school district shall comply with the written notification from a parent or legal guardian who has withheld permission for a child to join a club or participate in an activity, and shall not allow a child to join a club or participate in an activity in contravention of written notification from the child's parent or legal guardian forbidding such club or activity."
I was not aware that there was a big problem with school officials forcing students to join clubs or take part in extracurricular activities. On the contrary, I had always been under the impression that participation in such activities is considered to be a positive thing.
Ms. Cunningham's proposal would require more rounds of paperwork for school officials who are already inundated with it. According to the bill:
"All clubs, programs, or extracurricular activities occurring on school property or sponsored by schools, school staff, or students shall require written parental or legal guardian permission for membership in each specific club or activity."
Also, "Beginning with the 2006-07 school year, each school district shall obtain written parental or legal guardian permission for a student to participate in or be a member of a school-sponsored club or extracurricular activity. Each school district shall obtain such permission at the beginning of each school year."
This is an unnecessary bill. Unfortunately, it is not the only one proposed by Rep. Cunningham.
HB 1195 launches an attack on the Missouri High School Activities Association and, if passed, would open the door for schools to shop for students. The bill reads:
"No public school shall become a member of or retain membership in any statewide activities association that:
"(1) Maintains a bylaw that prohibits a tuition-paying student of a public school from participating in an activity of the public school to which the student's tuition is paid; or
"(2) Bars a resident student who meets the compulsory attendance requirements of section 167.031, RSMo, from participation in an activity of the public school."