Friday, October 18, 2019

Lane Grigsby, Kingmaker and Education Manipulator

This is an excellent article by Sue Lincoln, veteran reporter, for The Bayou Brief about how Lane Grigsby and a few super rich businessmen decided to take over our public education system as part of an overall plan to become the kingmakers of Louisiana politics. Grigsby and his allies are very close to achieving their goal of controlling virtually all Louisiana governmental functions including possibly the office of Governor.

As we predicted in several recent posts on this blog, with the buying of almost all elected positions on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, LABI has virtually achieved total control of K-12 education. Basically every rule, every directive to school principals and teachers now comes from the state education bureaucracy totally controlled by LABI which is dominated by Grigsby and his rich friends. All the complaints by teachers of excessive standardized testing costing millions that do absolutely nothing to benefit students, inaccurate and unfair test-based teacher ratings, can now be laid at the feet of Grigsby and LABI.

To emphasize the aggressiveness and dishonesty used in the takeover of BESE, here is part of an exact script of one of the radio ads (Paid for by Louisiana Federation for Children which is really financed by an out-of-state group) used against independent BESE candidate Timmie Melancon:  "There are two choices for BESE; Timmie Melancon who has taken thousands from liberal unions like those who spent millions electing O'Bama, Nancy Peloci and Hillary Clinton, . . . who raised money as a member of a radical online group where members promoted socialism, they even referred to our president as a Russian operative . . . The conservative choice is Holly Boffy who voted to give teachers a pay raise, and whose record includes higher test scores." This political ad is almost 100 percent flat out lies. Melancon is a retired school teacher who is a beekeeper who has never before been involved in any liberal causes. She got just a fraction of the donations Boffy got, who was funded mostly from out-of-state billionaires and LABI controlled PACs. Our student test scores on national tests have long been near the bottom, but after the 8 years of Boffy and her fellow reformers, LA is at the absolute bottom of the ranking of the states on national test scores.

In the linked article by Sue Lincoln, we find that Grigsby made the decision to take over public education and redirect much of our school taxes to private schools and charter schools because he became irritated at having to pay the engineers of his construction company based on the number of  school age children that they chose to send to private schools.  What monumental arrogance!

So John White and BESE, as the tools of LABI, are systematically usurping the powers of local school boards in operating public education, by approving more charter and voucher schools and by forcing teachers to spend an extraordinary portion of the school year prepping children for state tests.

Now, Grigsby and LABI, having achieved almost total control of BESE and the legislature, have their sights set on the office of Governor and the few remaining legislative districts they want to control. This would make their control of state government complete. Recent news reports have revealed that Grigsby offered support to one of the candidates for Senate district 16 to drop out of the race in seeking a judgeship as a consolation prize so that Grigsby's choice could win District 16. One Republican candidate actually resigned from the party in protest of Grigsby's attempt to corrupt the elections.

LABI's new goal, now that they have achieved total control of education, is to elect Eddie Rispone (A major Common Core promoter and a promotor of his own tax breaks for supporting private schools) as Governor. He and his rich kingmakers also intend to achieve a veto proof majority of the legislature. The achievement of these political goals would do no less than allow LABI to control basically every function of state government. What could LABI do with all this power?  Here are just a few possibilities:
  • Even more outrageous tax exemptions for super-big businesses in Louisiana along with a much bigger tax burden for the cost of services such as education, police, road repairs, health care, etc. shifted to average tax payers and small buisnesses.
  • An increasing segregation of our schools to allow more wealthy families to send their children to better funded and staffed schools while the neediest students would receive less and less support to reach educational equity.
  • A severe curtailment of the legal rights of citizens and workers who are literally being poisoned by industry (check out one of the many articles about Louisiana's cancer alley) and recovery of damages for job injuries where big businesses are responsible.
  • Reduction of Industry liability for coastal restoration and pollution cleanup.
  • Continued squashing of the rights of labor unions to represent their members.
This is where we are headed with the control of State Government by big business and self appointed king makers.

Monday, October 14, 2019

LABI and out-of-state donors still dominate BESE

It is so painful to me personally to review or recount the results of the BESE election this past weekend that I am grateful to Mercedes Schneider for having done an excellent job of telling the continuing sad story of the LABI victory over education. I urge all of my readers to take the time to read Schnieder's post.

I want to express my sincere appreciation to the excellent and independent candidates who did their very best to present themselves to the public as good alternatives to the insanity that has controlled and will continue to control education in Louisiana. Unfortunately they could not compete with the effect of big money on an election that most voters know little about. Most of the voters in our state continue to assume credibility for those candidates who spend enough to get their signs and ads out in the media. Most people do not take the time to read facebook posts from candidates who do not enjoy funding by the real decision makers in this state.

For my part, I will continue to monitor and report the actions of BESE as well as the legislature for as long is I am able to do so. I am very hopeful that at some time in the not-too-distant future we can restore the creativity of teachers and make effective attempts to better prepare our students for life using our K-12 public education system.