By David Stevens

Opinion: Independent schools welcome alternative to big government


Last updated 7/31/2021 at 4:01pm

All this talk about putting the “independent” back in the public school system is encouraging. Let's see some action now.

School board members in Floyd last week flagrantly defied state instructions for students and staff to mask up in the fight against COVID-19. They declared masks and social distancing would be optional in their tiny district where there's no evidence the virus is sending masses to the hospital.

Parents and others encouraged the Clovis school board to take the same action last week. “We have to stand up for the children,” former state lawmaker Brett Johnson told school board members. “You should become the Clovis independent school district.”

Indeed there are many arguments in favor of local control when it comes to educating our children. Emphasis on reading, for example, makes little sense in a district where all 12 seniors are proficient at reading, but it's probably a good idea in a district where 400 of the 600 seniors are reading at a third-grade level. One size does not fit all, but it's pretty much how government works at every level.

Local control also makes sense when it comes to public health issues. Portales Superintendent Johnnie Cain said last week students should just go home if they get sick. And of course he's right. It's not complicated and it's not a hard rule to enforce when parents and teachers and peers in a close-knit community work together on matters of common sense.

COVID-19 has been a little more complicated in that people who show no signs of illness are capable of passing it to others who might well get sick or even die. Thinking, caring people realize the solution there is regular testing, wearing masks in a crowd, getting a vaccine and/or social distancing. Or avoiding people who don't do any of those things. Duh.

But the greater point is that smaller communities shouldn't be subject to the same rules as large cities just because. Numbered soldiers may be the only option in Santa Fe or Las Cruces, but not in Dora or Grady where everybody knows the name of everybody's dog.

In a better world, government would limit control over its subjects and might prove beneficial to rural areas as well as metropolises. In the world we live in, Democrats and Republicans alike are all in on tax and spend and control and there's no evidence that will ever change. Some might like the GOP ideas for how we should all behave, others might prefer the Dems' approach, but some of us would rather be independent from government as much as possible.

Make no mistake, there will be serious financial repercussions and fewer extracurricular options if the Floyd school district chooses to ignore state mandates, just as there would be if Clovis or any other school chooses to go its own way.

But in this world of big government, a few truly independent places would be a welcome alternative for those of us who don't like being told what to do by people who don't even live around here.

— David Stevens


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