Congratulations to Granite School District.

After months of conversation at the school level and discussion at the board level, the district has approved a pilot project that will require students in two high schools to earn a credit in citizenship before they can graduate.The students will be expected to display a level of responsble behavior in every class that will merit a portion of that full credit.

If the students at Kearns and Skyline don't benefit from the policy, I'll be prepared to eat a lot of words on the subject.

I'm prepared, in fact, to wager that other schools in the district will be not only ready, but waiting to get on the bandwagon.

Several other Utah districts have made such a requirement of their graduates, and report that students do better in an atmosphere where good citizenship is enforced.

It's a sad commentary on our times that education leaders should have to pussyfoot around such a concept for months, then accept it warily and on a limited basis.

At what point did we Americans become so enamored of protecting individual rights that we lost sight of the fact that when one individual's rights impinge on another's, the ideal has become hopelessly skewed?

Hundreds of Utah high school students are serious about their educations. That their efforts should be impeded by classmates who are in school for socializing, terrorizing, or just plain passing the legally required time, is pathetic.

Their rights to the best education they can garner from their public school experience are at least as important as the rights of those who don't have the same goals. They should, in my mind, have precedence.

That school administrators should be immobilized by hypersensitivity to the potential for a lawsuit if they clamp down on disruptive, uncooperative students is even more distressing.

Worse still to contemplate is the fact that some parents would support their children in bad behavior to the point of challenging the system because it would deny the child graduation because of poor citizenship.

Without doubt, educators have good reason for such sensitivity. The clamor for "rights" has drowned out good sense in so many instances that precedence becomes a subtle but compelling motivation for educators to walk softly.

The big stick that was the second half of Teddy Roosevelt's approach to maintaining healthy relationships has been whacked to bits by legal results that condone bad behavior.

There are glimmerings that the pendulum, swung too far in the direction of protecting free expression, is headed back.

Perhaps in time, society's rights will again be on equal footing with the rights of individuals. School is the perfect place to establish that precedent.

A requirement for good citizenship has been on the books in Granite District for some time, noted principals who have promoted the citizenship credit for more than a year.

It's about time the concept shifted from the abstract to the concrete.

If students learn the three Rs of academics - Reading, `Riting and `Rithmetic - and fail to learn the three Rs of successful human interaction - Rights, Responsibility and Reliability - education is accomplishing only half its task.

Hopefully, other districts will keep an eye on outcomes in the districts that dare to take on the question of responsible behavior and decide to follow suit.