January 22, 2007 12:11PM

A Great Moment for the Nanny State or Legislative Satire?

A bill has been introduced in Texas that makes missing a parent‐​teacher conference a criminal offense.

Now, before everyone gets all upset, having a good excuse is an acceptable defense for parental misbehavior in being absent from the classroom. And it’s only Class C Misdemeanor. And the fines will be used strictly for educational purposes. Of course, there is no provision outlining what exactly constitutes a reasonable excuse, or whether a parent needs to get a signed note from his/​her respective parents/​doctor/​boss, etc. But I’m sure all of these details will work themselves out in due time.

I applaud the civic‐​minded Wayne Smith (R- Harris County) for addressing the problems that a lack of parental involvement in education can cause, but it seems to me that this might run afoul of personal liberty and violate the integrity of the family.

In fact, this law seems to directly conflict with a quote Mr. Smith has prominently displayed on his website:

“Let’s continue the fight to lower our taxes, reduce government bureaucracy and waste, and return to traditional family values.”

Now, I might be wrong, but Mr. Smith’s proposal looks like it will cost more money, increase government bureaucracy and waste, and undermine the sovereignty of the family that is the center‐​piece of traditional family values! His bill would make parents as well as children a ward of the state. I guess Mr. Smith thinks it takes a government‐​mandated village to raise a child and discipline a family.

Hold on! Perhaps Mr. Smith is presenting a “modest proposal” in order to demonstrate the absurdity of our government‐​run school system. Surely Mr. Smith knows that the best way to get parents involved in their child’s education is to allow them to control their child’s education! Everyone should be on the lookout for a universal education tax credit bill on sales and property taxes to follow this intriguing foray into the new art of legislative satire.