Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Outside Political Influence

It is interesting that the Louisiana media has failed to report on a sizable last minute  outside contribution to Louisiana's BESE election campaign by a political group based in New York. The American Independent Newspaper today carries a very well researched article about the contribution of New York Mayor Bloomberg's PAC to the Jindal/Grigsby PAC just a few days before the October primary election. Why was this important development not reported in the Louisiana news media?  If the public were to view the Governor's BESE takeover effort as part of a plan by a group of rich New York business guys who are involved in privatization of schools, there may be a public backlash against their candidates. On the other hand if Jindal can sell his BESE takeover effort as a good government move to reduce the influence of  unions and school boards who just want to maintain the status quo, the public is more likely to support his hand picked BESE candidates. Unfortunately this revelation did not come in time to cause a public backlash against the defeat of BESE members Keith Guice and Dale Bayard in the Primary.

Heaven knows Bloomberg does not need any more money, but there are recent revelations about his connections with media tycoon Rupert Murdock whose companies have developed computer assisted instructional programs that are being marketed to public and private schools.

The outside connections to Jindal, Grigsby, School Charter Groups and pro-voucher groups with the TFA and New York privatizers are just too numerous and well documented to ignore. One-by-one TFA newcomers have been appointed to the Louisiana Department of Education and BESE staff positions while highly qualified local educators have been passed over. John White, an unproven TFA alumnus is waiting in the wings for his appointment to the top position in Louisiana education while Jindal and his friends build their super majority on BESE.  Rolfe McCollister, owner of the Baton Rouge Business Report whose daughter recently worked for one of the charter management organizations is actively involved in this takeover PAC. Chas Roemer's sister who works for the charter schools has been advised that she cannot appear before BESE, yet Chas has been allowed to vote on critical charter takeover issues.

Testing companies are expecting more lucrative no-bid contracts. Many operators of the private and parochial schools across Louisiana are licking their chops at the prospect of a financial windfall of public funds if the Governor is successful in  expanding his voucher programs to private schools outside the New Orleans area. A group called the Black Alliance for School Choice is already drumming up support for vouchers and charters in the Black community. Only later will such parents find out that these will mostly benefit the affluent who can already afford a private education for their children. Freedom of choice of schools was outlawed by the courts years ago because it did not reduce segregation. Yet these voucher programs will surely produce an excluded group of high poverty students.  This is what we can expect from the takeover of BESE.
As I pointed out in my post of April 3, 2011, "It's not about the children anymore." It's about the adults and their plans to use public school funds for their own benefit.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jindal Closer to Goal

The results of the primary election for BESE have brought Governoer Jindal very close to his goal of taking complete control of BESE. The defeat of District 5 and District 7 incumbents, Keith Guice and Dale Bayard make it more likely that Jindal will get his 8 vote super majority to pick the next State Superintendent. Three BESE races, Districts 2, 6 and 8 have yet be decided in the November general election. In District 3, Lottie Beebie, an educator from St. Martin Parish defeated the Governor's choice, incumbent  Glenny Lee Bouquet.

I am very disappointed in the loss of Keith Guice and Dale Bayard from the Board because they were solid representatives for sound education policy. They had been targeted for defeat by the Governor and his allies because they refused to support some reforms that they believed were more destructive than helpful to our schools.

Despite huge campaign expenditures by pro-Jindal incumbent Chas Roemer, he has been forced into a runoff with long time educator Donald Songy. Independent minded Louella Givens is in a runoff with TFA administrator, Kira Jones in District 2.

Carolyn Hill, a social worker is in a runoff in District 8 with former school board member Jim Guillory.

Look for more information on these runoffs in future post on this blog.