Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is a tricky rhetorician. He clearly enjoys grabbing his opponents by the arguments and using their logic against them... or at leas the logic he wishfully imputes to them.

Here are two examples from one of his weekend updates:

To me the most noteworthy thing in the State of the State, as it relates to controversy, was that there was no mention of paying teachers more. But, what is there to say? Voters in November said no to three different strategies to pay teachers more and the Governor obviously is respecting the will of the voters. And so education funding is basically at a standstill [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Trying to Create Early Controversy," Voices Carry, 2013.01.12].

Wait—three different strategies? There was Referred Law 16, a pile of pedagogically unsound, research-refuted proposals from the Governor that would have done all harm and no good for South Dakota's K-12 schools. There was Initiated Measure 15, the regressive extra-penny sales tax measure that would have sent $90 million to the schools, none of it earmarked for salaries. That's two strategies; what's the third— elect a Democratic majority to the Legislature?

Contrary to Rep. Hickey's absurd oversimplification, RL 16 and IM 15 failed at the polls for numerous reasons, not solely because some South Dakotans want to keep paying the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. We did not give the Governor a mandate not to talk about education in his State of the State address. We told him to keep talking about education, but to talk about fair ideas that may actually work.

Rep. Hickey's second specious attempt at verbal judo comes as he turns to discussion of his impending "School Sentinel" bill, a sop to gun nuts who want to affirm their John Wayne fantasies by letting local school boards arm their teachers and janitors:

...the legislature won't be designing a one-size fits all school safety program but will merely be letting each district design their own plan with the requirement that whatever they seek to design and implement that it be "interfaced with local law enforcement." The type of plan to arm school employees, or hire security personal, or volunteers is something to be discussed and decided by school boards. No teacher or employee will be asked to be a part of any additional security plan without their free, willing and voluntary consent. Section five basically provides that a school board can decide not to design a school sentinel program and they are not liable to a cause of action charging they did not do more to protect kids.

I'm not sure I like the last part of that but here's the thing… all those who were screaming last year for local control of schools have it right here in this bill. The debate about additional guns in schools will now shift to the local school boards if this passes [Hickey, 2013.01.12].

Sigh. Local control is great when we have a panoply of viable policy alternatives that will produce differing results in different local conditions. Local control is bad when the Legislature wants to wash its hands of an issue and let school boards do something really stupid, dangerous, and counterproductive.

In both cases, Rep. Hickey is misreading last year's policy arguments to justify the continuation or creation of bad policy. Instead of playing word games and trying to win debates in his head with last year's electorate, Rep. Hickey should focus on crafting workable policies to produce real improvements in education.