It took just a few days for the small-government politicians to endorse the idea of government expansion with a new law in response to the horrific death of Aliahna Lemmon.
No suggestion on what the law would do, but the pols clearly like the idea of rallying behind "Aliahna's Law" to bolster their law-and-order cred.
Arguably, it's a well-intentioned law that cause Aliahna's death. Residency restrictions place on those convicted of a sexual offense have created concentrated areas where those convicted can live. Aliahna's grandfather was one of them. The family moved into the mobile home park to help care for him. If they hadn't, they might never have crossed paths with the man now accused of killing her.
If lawmakers really wanted to help children like Aliahna and her family, why did they cut millions of dollars from her school district? Do they not see a connection between the services a school district can provide and the safety net it might offer to a child in danger? When schools have to cut classroom aides, nurses, counselors and other employees providing vital services, it's less likely they will be able to see the warning signs of a child in need.
Aliahna's death is also a reminder of the heartbreaking challenges many public teachers now face. The details of her brief life indicate she changed schools frequently, as the family moved around. Before she was killed, she was staying with two younger siblings -- also students at Fort Wayne's Holland Elementary School -- in her grandfather's trailer, sleeping on a chair or on the floor. How likely was it that she arrived at school each day, well rested and ready to learn? How likely was it that she benefited from experiences outside the classroom that bolster achievement? How does it affect other students in a classroom when one or more students have tremendous challenges at home?
Instead of Aliahna's Law, the politicians should focus on Aliahna's Lesson, and do all they can to ensure that public schools have the tools they need to protect children and help them achieve a better life than the one they've been handed.