March 21, 2013 10:35:14 AM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
The Great Festering Pile of Stupid, sometimes referred to as the Mississippi Legislature, will soon end its 2013 session.
All that remains is a few more last-minute assaults on reason before we will be able to assess just how much damage the legislators have inflicted on us this time.
Our legislators didn't get everything done, of course. Some misery will have to be delayed until next year.
Our Columbus contingent, Rep. Jeff Smith and Rep. Gary Chism have established themselves as the state's leaders of a new secessionist movement. Sadly, they could not manage to push through a law that would have set up a Sovereignty Commission. Their campaign slogan -- It's New! It's Improved! It's 1962! -- didn't catch on, for some reason. So it looks as though we will have to endure being a part of the United States -- and suffering the humiliation of accepting the hundreds of millions of federal tax dollars that prop up Mississippi's economy -- for at least one more year.
On the Senate side, Columbus can glory in the marvelous work of our very own Sen. Terry Brown, who took a few hours from his busy schedule to solve the Middle East crisis by pushing through a resolution that establishes the boundaries of Israel. It's about time somebody did that, don't you think? Palestinians and Israelis alike were stunned into silence by the enormous gravity of the Mississippi legislature's pronouncement. Thus, the lion shall lay down with the lamb.
On the health front, Gov. Phil Bryant continues to take a defiant stance against attempts to provide health care for the working poor (it only encourages them, you know) while bravely battling to preserve our American Liberties, chief among them the Right to a Big Gulp. (Bryant: "Take that, Bloomberg!" Bloomberg: "Uh...Who are you?")
The Right to Assemble an Arsenal in Your Home Without Anybody Knowing It will be protected, but not abortion rights (no matter what the Supreme Court says).
Of particular pleasure to Bryant, the Methodist Imam of Mississippi, was The Religious Liberties Act, which gives Mississippi students the religious rights they already have while ensuring students a whole bunch of rights they had never had before, such as telling school officials where to stick it if they demand that students wear uniforms or refrain from wearing T-shirts that say "Satan Rocks!"
Students can do just about anything they want and claim that behavior is a part of their religious beliefs: (Today's announcements: "Prayer around the flag pole at 10 a.m.! Animal Sacrifices to Thor at 11!")
Of course, the big push this year was education.
Under Bryant's leadership, the Legislature has taken bold steps to insure that Mississippi will not slip from 50th in the nation in educating our children.
Bryant's bold approach has been a push for charter schools, especially the kind that allow somebody to make some money off them, which will insure that, at most, 10,000 of Mississippi's half-million students will be able to escape poor-performing schools for a charter school. About 20 percent of charter schools outperform traditional public schools, so you can immediately see how this legislation is a real "game-changer." Why bother fixing the schools if you can just pretend they don't exist, right?
Bryant is also pretty sick of kids not being able to read at grade level.
To fix this problem, he has pushed legislation that would require that every child be able to read at grade level by third grade. Otherwise, they will be forced to spend a year in a remedial program. What's not to like about that, you ask? Well, for starters the program isn't funded. Teachers will not receive training to run the programs. Classrooms are not set aside for it. It is a big program with absolutely zero money to run it. Bryant just spoke it into being, sort of like in the first chapter of Genesis.
Clearly, the governor is committed to improving education -- as long as it doesn't cost more than can be found under your sofa cushions.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]