BOSTON – In less than three months, Massachusetts voters will decide who will be Governor. My initial zeal and optimism, when I voted for Deval Patrick in 2006, meets with reasonable resistance now. I grapple with inner conflict over promises he failed to manifest. However, Governor Patrick (D) did take action on some significant bills. These two bills have an impact on me, and every citizen in the Commonwealth.
My daughter is a sixth-grade teacher in central Massachusetts. She deals with her fair share of bullies. No one wanted an anti-bullying law in this state more than I did. I hope it will, in some indirect way, help to protect my daughter as well. Students and parents bully teachers all the time.
The heightened level of student aggressiveness in many schools today is frightening. As the mother of a teacher, and another daughter, who was relentlessly bullied by two girls in high school, I praise the governor for signing the landmark anti-bullying bill into law in May.
Following the January suicide of 15-year-old, South Hadley, student, Phoebe Prince, and a media blitz of the Massachusetts bullying story that covered the globe — Governor Patrick, to his credit, took a steadfast advocacy approach to putting an end to bullying. The governor was clearly outraged as well as sympathetic, over Irish-born, Phoebe Prince and her sad demise.
The proactive Massachusetts legislation stands apart from other states that have enacted anti-bullying law. With the new law in place, kindergarten through 12th grade students will now have to take part in an anti-bullying curriculum. The law intends to nip bullying in the bud beginning in kindergarten.
Some believe Massachusetts’ new law bucks students’ First Amendment right to free speech. Anyone who has ever experienced the devastation of being the target of a bully — may beg to differ. I will never believe that the concept of free speech permits someone to paralyze another human being with fear.
Safe Driving Legislation – No More Texting
With all the issues, economic and political, clouding my state before the November elections, you may perceive my excitement about a texting ban as out-of-whack. Surely, there must be a more important bill Governor Patrick should have been pondering.
Not when you consider that, an estimated 20 percent of people are texting while driving. Wait — it gets scarier. According to a U.S. News article, narrow down that percentage to drivers between 18 and 24 years-of-age, and the number of youth texting while driving rockets to 66 percent. Frankly, I am tired of sharing the road with these reckless people.
Texting while driving is extremely dangerous. Just like the anti-bullying law, some are calling this type of ban an erosion of freedom. I call it a smart move to ensure safety on our roads. No tweet or Facebook post is important enough to endanger yourself or your fellow driver. Driving distracted has to stop.
I applaud the governor for passing safe driving legislation. The ban on texting while driving is brilliant. The ban on drivers under 18 using a cell phone while driving is critical. The requirement that anyone 75 and older take a vision test every five years, renew his or her license in person at a registry, and not online, is not a blow to senior citizens, it is highly necessary.
The safe driving law will take effect in October. For some Massachusetts voters, these may not come off as epic legislation signed into existence by the governor. Curbing the contemptible practice of bullying is huge in my opinion. For Governor Deval Patrick, bringing to a close, the dangerous act of texting while driving is an admirable achievement.
Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Legislation – www.mass.gov
Governor Deval Patrick’s Massachusetts Government Page
“Mass. Enacts Tough Anti-Bullying Law,” UPI.com
Bret Shulte, “Outlawing Text Messaging While Driving,” U.S.News.com
Safe Driving Legislation – www.mass.gov