“MICHIGAN RANKED 9th WORST STATE FOR BULLYING”: For some reason, that headline caught my eye today. Really? Ninth worst? Not 3rd or 23rd? How does one even measure these things?

A little while ago, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on the Department of Education’s intensive efforts to combat bullying in schools.  Somehow this was (and still is) viewed as an issue of “discrimination” in violation of federal law.  As usual, I filed a statement dissenting from the report.  Here’s an excerpt:

Remember when children used to say “Don’t make a federal case out of it”? In those days even fourth graders understood that not every problem is best dealt with at the federal level. These days, however, everything seems to be a federal case—even schoolyard bullies.

The point is not that bullying is unimportant. Few things are as important as ensuring that all our nation’s children can attend safe schools that are conducive to learning. But, in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the problem can only be dealt with effectively at the local level. Individual teachers and principals backed up by active parents, school boards, school district officials, and students themselves must be in charge. They are the heroes of the story, not the Department of Education. …

One could argue that any help in this regard should be welcome. But help from the 800-pound gorilla can be worse than no help at all. And that is what anything as large and powerful as the federal government inevitably is. The fact that it may be well-meaning is nice to know, but it shouldn’t make anyone want to trust it with a china tea set.

I wonder if school children still say “Don’t make a federal case out of it.”  It might not make any sense to them anymore.