Big Man on Campus

State representative wants legislation to target school bullies

Buzz has a great idea for a high school band's halftime show: a marching musical tribute to state Representative Tony Goolsby. Yearbook staffs, chess clubs and computer groups should do something nice for the Dallas Republican, too.

Why? Goolsby has introduced legislation to stymie school bullies. Praise his name. (A somewhat similar measure has been introduced in the Senate.)

If you think we're kidding with all the praise stuff, then know this: In our school days, Buzz was good at math, loved to read and was very familiar with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. So we're not joking. Not by much, anyway.

Victims of school bullies have long comforted themselves with the notion that the best revenge is living well. That's why we studied. In the case of Goolsby, an admitted former pipsqueak, it's even better to be a state legislator. His bill would amend the Texas Education Code to include a definition of bullying and require school districts to shunt violators off to alternative schools.

Hanging them, Buzz supposes, was a bit too much to ask. Besides, in our experience, the guys likely to be affected by Goolsby's bill all have freakishly thick necks, and cutting off the flow of blood to their heads wouldn't hurt them much.

Not that we're bitter.

But do we really need a state law? Goolsby, a former teacher and principal, thinks so. In this litigious time, school districts have to tread lightly when dealing out punishment, he says, and his bill would give administrators some clear guidelines, not to mention coverage for their backsides in the case of lawsuits.

"It's not a brain-surgeon deal," Goolsby says. "...You've seen how some of these kids whip up on...what some would call nerds."

Some kids, he says, "are just damn bullies." Sure, they may provide their victims some lessons on the hard knocks of life, but they tend to distract from other lessons schools are supposed to teach: reading, writing, all that sissy stuff.

We asked Goolsby if he himself had ever been on the receiving end of an atomic wedgie. No, but as a 5-foot-5-inch, 135-pound youngster, he did manage the school football team, and he remembers one lummox--an All State football player--who gave him a particularly vicious shove during a basketball game.

He met the bully later in life. Drink and other troubles had plagued the former football player, Goolsby says. He didn't gloat a bit as he told us.

Buzz would have.

Still, Goolsby's experience points out a potential flaw in his bill. It doesn't provide exemptions for football players. This being Texas and all, maybe the governor can just issue a blanket pardon for anyone wearing a letter jacket.

 
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