As Bluestem Prairie noted in In prolonged rant on anti-bullying bill, Jim Newberger plays Orwell & Hitler cards, the Becker Republican first compared a Minnesota anti-bullying bill to George Orwell's 1984 police state, and then drew an analogy of standing up to Hitler in his floor speech opposed to the measure which is now law.
Curiously, in a debate in which Republicans championed control of anti-bullying policy being set by local schools, it turns out that the policies Newberger fears are already in place in the St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids public schools, which anticipate few changes when the bill goes into effect.
St. Cloud Times staff writer Mark Sommerhauser reports in Bullying law draws skepticism, frustration:
Rep. Jim Newberger, speaking in the Minnesota House earlier this month, painted a chilling picture of a bill intended to curb bullying in Minnesota schools.
Newberger, R-Becker, invoked the novel "1984" and Adolf Hitler to describe the measure, which has since become law. He later told the Times his rhetoric was rooted in his belief that the measure would, for the first time, enable schools to respond to cyberbullying incidents that occur off school premises.
But schools responding to such incidents is nothing new, say leaders in two area school districts and a statewide association for school administrators.
St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids district officials say they already react to cyberbullying or similar incidents that happen away from school if the incident affects the school environment. Those are the same circumstances under which, according to the new law, a school can address such incidents.
School officials say they're already taking steps to combat cyberbullying, the advent of which has blurred the boundaries of a school's disciplinary domain. They say bullying or intimidation that once happened on playgrounds or hallways now occurs by text message or Twitter — inside of school or out; during the school day, before or after.
Much of what the law outlines "is already happening within the Sauk Rapids-Rice school district," Superintendent Dan Bittman said. . . .
Read the rest at the St. Cloud Times. Will cats like Newberger and others in his caucus suggest legislation to take away the ability of local schools to address cyberbullying as the Republicans believe that to be "Orwellian"? Or will they trust local schools to know what's best--as they repeatedly claimed during the floor debate?
Photo: State representative Jim Newberger, R-Becker.
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