Friday, May 25, 2007

Education 5-25-07

School children will be better protected from bullies under a bill approved in the state House. House Bill 1366 includes a list of students who are likely to be targets of bullies. Some opponents argued that the list creates two classes of victims by listing race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory disability as possible reasons why students may be bullied. The bill sponsor said states that incorporated similar lists into their anti-bullying laws have noticed a sharper decrease in instances of bullying. People who are not on the list are not excluded as potential victims of bullying. A proposed amendment that would have removed the list failed by a vote of 59-58, with Speaker Joe Hackney voting on the prevailing side. In a separate vote, the House defeated a bill, House Bill 853, that would have banned corporal punishment in the school systems. Opponents of the ban argued that it stripped local school boards of their authority to set policy in their systems.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has long reserved a seat for a student, but never allowed the student to vote. A bill approved in the state House is trying to change that. The bill approved Tuesday would allow the student member to vote on matters that come before the board. Proponents of the bill argue the student member is generally well informed enough about the issues to vote. Opponents say students don’t have enough time during their one-year tenure to become knowledgeable about the needs of the 16-campus public university system. House Bill 893 now goes to the Senate.

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