We didn’t ask for it, but opponents of elementary and secondary education reform gave us a final demonstration of disingenuity with comments about one bill accomplishing changes after they lost the battle of ideas over it.
While the general contents of the bills have been known and discussed for months, by candidates and research organizations, the specifics came to light just before the beginning of the session, and 23 days after its start the finished products were sent to the governor after more discussion on them than any bills in the modern history of the Legislature. Included in them were the exact procedures for their implementation.
However, one of them, HB 976, forgot to include a tool of convenience, a date in which the law becomes effective. Constitutionally, the effective date of a law unless otherwise indicated in it is Aug. 1 of the year passed. Six different implementation dates are listed in it, four at the beginning of 2013, but one on Aug. 1 and another on Jun. 30. The former instructs the Department of Education to develop standards, so even if the law wasn’t official that work may proceed. The latter is a deadline for private schools to seek participation in the scholarship voucher program, so that known incentive dangles out there for them even if the law technically has a month to go before coming into force. In others words, in this instance, the omission of an earlier effective date (such as on the governor’s signature) has no practical impact on its implementation.
Still, it’s something that should have been caught by the bill’s author in particular and supporters in general, just for completeness sake. This inattentiveness, however, has been used by the vanquished opponents of it to try to resurrect the red herring argument that the process was rushed and “messy.” Where they think that will get them is unclear – they already lost so this is useless in trying to stop reform – but in doing so, they reveal again the disingenuous nature of the entire claim.
This is because they themselves missed the omission as well. If their opposition had been based on the notion that there were intractable theoretical and structural problems with the bill, then in the process of opposition they would have exposed them and caused major alteration or defeat of it. Instead, they offered up unpersuasive, half-baked, visceral, and paranoid emotive arguments against it that deservedly were defeated in the marketplace of ideas. In other words, because they had no real convincing substantive basis for their opposition, they based it on political grounds dependent upon rhetoric rather than ideas.
Thus came one component of this political strategy, the “rushed” narrative. Yet if they had paid attention to the substance of this issue, they would have figured out the lack of an effective date that could serve as evidence validating that thesis. Instead, they grabbed that as a prop among other objectives based on a political strategy rather than any reasoned argument against built on solid data. While the failure on the proponent’s side constitutes an error of eagerness, the failure to notice by opponents indicates disingenuousness, in that they could find no real compelling argument to persuade defeat of the measure, so instead they turned to unserious, politicized excuses not to pass it, all the while holding these out as genuine flaws of substance.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 08:55