Shaw: Hooray for Fargo's Gandhi and some Republican North Dakota legislators
Columnist Jim Shaw salutes Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Rupak Gandhi and highlights some of the positives to come for North Dakota's legislative session
Bravo to Fargo School Superintendent Rupak Gandhi and the Fargo School Board! They are going to disregard North Dakota’s horrific new laws that target transgender children. Those cruel and dangerous laws prevent transgender children from using appropriate bathrooms, ban the use of the student’s preferred gender pronoun, and require students to be outed.
As Gandhi correctly emphasized, not only do these new state laws violate federal laws, but they needlessly harm children. These laws would likely lead to increased depression and suicide rates. Gandhi is spot on when he says his job is to protect students, especially those who feel unsafe.
Gandhi and the board have demonstrated great courage, leadership and compassion. They have their priorities straight. Here’s hoping other North Dakota school districts follow Fargo’s lead.
With the North Dakota Legislative session thankfully over, it’s important to acknowledge that some excellent Republicans served in Bismarck. There just weren’t enough of them.
They include Reps. Steve Swiontek of Fargo, Shannon Roers Jones of Fargo, Emily O’Brien of Grand Forks, Mark Sanford of Grand Forks, Cynthia Schreiber-Beck of Wahpeton, Jon Nelson of Rugby and David Richter of Williston. In the Senate, they include Judy Lee of West Fargo and Karen Krebsbach of Minot.
They had the courage and integrity to resist the extremists with their cruel and dangerous culture wars. They demonstrated common sense and empathy. Hopefully, there’s still room for that in the North Dakota Republican Party.
There were also some important bills that passed, such as a primary seat belt law. Now, drivers can be cited for not buckling up, without having to commit another offense. This should save many lives. After a long struggle, it was good to see the lawmakers approve free school meals to children from low-income families, dramatically increase funding for education and strengthen the laws against sex offenders.
The $65.6 million for child care is welcome, but it should be more. The tax cuts will certainly help, although there should have been more emphasis on property taxes and less emphasis on the already low income tax. It’s nice to see there’s now a cap on expensive insulin costs, but it’s just for current or former public employees. It should be for everyone.
There are also some brutal bills that became law, but didn’t receive much attention. One of them shamefully bans the instruction of “divisive concepts” at state colleges and universities. In other words, let’s pretend that racism or sexism never existed in the U.S. Colleges are supposed to be places where we have a free exchange of opinions, rather than muzzling them.
Another new law that lacks context is one where schools must discourage abortions and play a video of the development of the heart, brain and other vital organs in early fetal development. A sample video presented by anti-abortion activist Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg says right after conception, “A new human being has come into existence.” Say what? Of course, these are mostly the same legislators who two years ago canceled an effective sex education program in the state.
Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.