Editorial: A colossal waste of time
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Feb 17, 2014 | 2559 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this photo taken April, 24, 2013, Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, studies the proposed education budget during a committee meeting at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. Allen says he aims to shut down a little-known education foundation that may have brought in less money than the state's school system spent running it. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press/file
In this photo taken April, 24, 2013, Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, studies the proposed education budget during a committee meeting at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala. Allen says he aims to shut down a little-known education foundation that may have brought in less money than the state's school system spent running it. Photo: Dave Martin/The Associated Press/file
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Alabama faces serious issues. It has under-funded schools and services, roads in need of repair and an inadequate and regressive tax system, and that’s only a few items on a lengthy list.

Yet, the state Legislature has invented a problem and taken up valuable legislative time addressing it. In doing so, it has created racial animosity among its members and opened the door to future lawsuits that will cost the state money it does not have.

Last week, the state Senate approved a bill that would allow public schools to educate students about two traditional winter celebrations — Christmas and Hanukkah — and exchange the traditional greetings “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Holidays” without fear of censure.

The truth: Alabama’s public schools and public school students weren’t prohibited from doing this.

According to Eric Mackey, executive director of the School Superintendents of Alabama, no problems of this sort have been reported by members of his group. Mackey believes the bill is not needed. We agree.

Not that it matters to Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, who responded to pressure by a religious lobbying group and introduced the bill to tell the schools and children they can do what they are already doing.

Then, to muddle the matter, Allen’s bill also tells schools that if they are going to continue doing these routine things — like putting up a nativity scene — they have to add a symbol of another faith or something secular, like Santa Claus.

While some might consider this a noble nod to diversity, others might see it as one more example of government intruding into an area where it is not needed or wanted.

To make the bad worse, the Senate voted down the amendment was voted down, 10-12, when black senators attempted to add Kawanza, which celebrates African culture among black Americans, to the list of approved festivals to be celebrated in Alabama public schools.

You know that made everyone feel better about the bill.

The bill now is in the state House of Representatives, where we hope it dies an inglorious death, though it is doubtful that it will. “Reason prevailed” has not been a hallmark of that body in the past.

If it passes the lower chamber, it will arrive on the desk of Gov. Robert Bentley, who has never seen a pro-Judeo-Christian measure he did not like. He will sign it and the attorney general’s office will start researching similar situations to get ready for the court challenge that is sure to come.

Meanwhile, fourth-graders who have in the past made decorations for the Christmas tree in the governor’s mansion might have to make decorations for a Hanukkah display which, under the law, the governor might have to set up for them.

What started as a colossal waste of legislative time will become a statewide mess, courtesy of the folks we elected to keep us out of such situations.
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