But then came that photo-op with President Obama which generated more than a bit of consternation, especially in that it took place when the Governor should have been giving Mitt Romney the tour. Even so, that digression into bipartisan politics didn’t give The Motley Monk a good reason not to admire Chris Christie or to continue considering him a viable candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
That was then and this is now. The Motley Monk recently learned that the Governor of New Jersey did something that definitely ups the ante and has the potential to be a game changer.
Way back in 2011—a long time ago, “So what’s that matter now?” to quote Hillary Clinton—the New Jersey Governor signed the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) bill, one of the harshest anti-bullying laws in the nation. In a Times of Trenton op-ed, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, Richard Bozza, wrote at the time that the unfunded law was costly in terms of time, money and, most important, student self-esteem.”
Forget the alleged negative impact to self-esteem, that’s all a distraction. What’s this “costly in terms of time, money…”?
First, there’s an 18-page compliance checklist that every school must be complete. Second, some HIB requirements:
- “…lunch-line bullies…can be reported to the police by their classmates…through anonymous tips to the Crimestoppers hotline.”
- “…children, including kindergartners, will spend six class periods learning such things as the difference between telling and tattling.”
- schools must have an anti-bullying “specialist.”
All of this, despite HIB’s requirement that bullies by-pass a visit to the principal’s office and report directly to the police station.
As it ends up, New Jersey educators had difficulty managing to come up with the resources they need to comply with the hundreds of pages of HIB standards. In addition, 200 school districts reported they were required to implement $2M worth of new anti-bullying programs, 200% of the original budget for the implementation process. Then too, 90% of educators and school board officials surveyed said the law increased costs and workload. Remember, however, the bill was unfunded. Those costs meant cuts to other budget items.
So, when New Jersey’s Council on Local Mandates ruled in January 2012 that HIB was unconstitutional as an unfunded state mandate, the state’s legislature voted to amend HIB and provide $1M to districts to cover that year’s costs. After all, school bullying is an "epidemic." The amendment also created a new commission to track the law's implementation. Governor Christie, who helped broker the amendment, signed it on March 26.
More money. More government oversight.
But, get this: University of Texas criminologist Seokjin Jeong’s 2013 study covering the 50 states, 195 schools, and 7k students has found that anti-bullying policies fail to prevent bullying. Those policies also put students into a position in which they are more likely to be bullied.
If Governor Christie was a true conservative, he would not have signed the bill. Instead, he would have entrusted educators and parents to determine how they will address bullies and allow students to defend themselves. Instead, Christie signed an unfunded mandate so he didn’t add to the state’s budget and would appear to be doing something about bullying in the state’s public schools. Then, when the scam was ruled unconstitutional, Christie brokered a deal that increased the state’s budget and bureaucracy.
HIB provides one reason to consider why Governor Chris Christie should not be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee: He’s not straight-forward, winks and nods, and the evidence is that HIB won’t get it done no matter how much money and bureaucrats the Governor of New Jersey pours into it.
HIB looks very much like President George W. Bush’s TSA. It all started with 16.5 employees following 9/11/01 and ballooned to 62k employees by 2014 at a cost of ~$8B/year. That’s despite the fact that TSA hasn’t detected one terrorist threat and there’s no evidence TSA provides any transportation security.
Another "compassionate conservative"?
Let the discussion begin…
To read Richard Bozza’s Times of Trenton op-ed, click on the following link:
To read about funding the HIB’s costs, click on the following link:
To read Seokjin Jeong's 2013 study, click on the following link: