Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The law is the law

The beauty of the rule of law is that it is here to remind us what to do when we really would like to forget. Like when you are driving down the highway and some lunatic cuts you off and nearly causes a wreck and you might want to retaliate, but you think about your insurance rates, and the moving violations.

Well, the current budget crisis is a wreck. And fortunately we have a few laws in place to remind us how to behave. When things are good, it is not so hard. I never feel road rage when there is no traffic, only when I am hemmed in. That is self interest at work. Laws are more important when the right thing is not the convenient thing. Even in good times, districts needed a law to remind them that special education students had a right to play on the playgrounds, and a right to be in school with appropriate supports. Now in bad times, they need a big reminder.

The law is the law. IDEA is a very strong law, written as a remedy during a time when students with disabilities were legally excluded from schools. It is a good law that reminds us to do the right thing, and it needs to be reinforced. The difficulty of the law is that sometimes things must go badly awry before a remedy can occur... one cannot press assault charges until the assault has already occurred.

Hopefully no students will be hurt as boards of educations are doing the impossible task of balancing budgets in the current crisis.

After all, the law is the law, whether you use it for hindsight or for foresight.