Our new Community News Director at the Huntsville Times, Anthony Cook, has great news for criminals everywhere. Suddenly if you claim that you’re being “efficient,” breaking the law does not matter.
And he’s not alone in sharing this opinion. It seems that WAFF’s new reporter (who prefers offering his opinion to simply reporting) Charles Molineaux also agrees with Mr. Cook.
Let’s see if we can follow their logic.
Cook argues that “Washington is going after Huntsville City Schools for $2.6 million as punishment for the school system’s effort to be fiscally responsible.” So, Cook admits that “too many special ed aides were laid off, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.” In other words, he acknowledges that the district has broken the law. Of course while talking about it, he never refers to IDEA as a “law,” but rather as just an “act.”
Unfounded Claims From the Times
He claims that “in the years preceding 2011, the system was bloated, employing hundreds more support personnel than necessary.”
Of course, he offers absolutely no support for this opinion whatsoever. He then asks, “Flabbergasted yet?”
On one point, he’s correct: the federal law does not allow a district to cut Special Education funding on the basis of availability of funding. Why might that be? Any special education parent (if he had cared to ask any of us) can tell you, the first place where a district looks to cut when funding dips is special education. As I pointed out to the board 16 months ago, the district placed 41% of the cuts on 12% of the population. Under no circumstance is this fair.
It’s amazing what lengths he will go to justify the system breaking the law.
And it is a law.
Evidence That The Cuts Have Hurt Students
Mr. Cook attempts to temper his extremism by claiming:
And, if any evidence showed that special ed students suffered or were neglected under the smaller staff, that would certainly be a case for enforcing the penalty.
I guess he was too busy to do a google search or, you know, actually ask even one special eduction parent about this wildly inaccurate claim. Here’s some evidence that the reduction in staff has hurt students. Here’s some more. And more. Since Mr. Cook doesn’t watch local news, here’s at least one example where a special education child was injured perhaps as a result of there not being enough aides to supervise him.
Is it too much to ask someone who writes for a newspaper to actually do some investigation before spouting off his uninformed opinions? Evidently under the new, intensive three-days a week publishing schedule, the Community News Director is just too busy.
Breaking The Law For Efficiency
But for now, let’s assume that Mr. Cook’s central argument is correct: The law can be broken, even should be broken, when it results in efficiencies.
I wonder if Mr. Cook would be willing to apply this new standard to other areas. It’s certainly more efficient for me to exceed the speed limit when I’m late, so it must therefore be okay for me to do so, right?
It’s certainly more efficient for me to take 10 copies of the Huntsville Times out of the paper box and sell them for myself than it is for me to pay for all 10 copies. It’s good to know that Mr. Cook would be flabbergasted if I didn’t do just that.
Wanting To Have It Both Ways
Mr. Cook, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim that “there’s no arguing with the intent of the law” and in the same breath argue that following the law is “not the logical thing to do.”
I hope this pathetic level of “critical thinking” isn’t what we should expect from now on from our community news director.
If it is, honestly, wouldn’t it be more efficient if this community news director were working elsewhere?
Yes sir, I am flabbergasted.