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BESE Election and Beyond - Thursday, November 17, 2011

Listen UP!

BESE Election

And Beyond


Pay for the crimes of Wall Street. 

The rogues’ gallery of Wall Street profiteers, such as Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs, Howard Milstein at New York Private Bank & Trust, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Dick Devry at Amway, Alice Walton at Wal-Mart, and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase & Co., no doubt think it’s over.


They think it is back to the business of harvesting what is left of America to swell their personal and corporate fortunes. But they no longer have any concept of what is happening around them. 


They are convinced that by reelecting Bobby Jindal the door to the Louisiana education vault is wide open and that spending a few more hundred thousand they can pack the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to do their bidding.


Do they err? 


Do they misjudge the discontent that affects parents, students, teachers, educators of all stripe, from pre-K to graduate school faculty?


Do they believe that the education stakeholders are entrapped and in such deep despair that their collective will be done unto them?


The answer is not in the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) or Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) board room where plans are being made to carve up the education dollar.


The answer is in the homes of Dry Prong, Delhi, Minden, De Ridder, Bunkie, St. Rose, Belle Chase, and in neighborhoods like Holy Cross and Marigny of New Orleans.  The answer is among those voters whodid not vote last month but now see the extent to which their children will pay for an accelerating experiment in education failure.


How will they pay? 

·         Neighborhood property values declining.

·         Children being segregated once again according to ability to pay for the education.

·         Educators with years of successful teaching looking for non-teaching employment.  One must remember that there are now only 115 failing schools among 1,346 in Louisiana.

·         An elite few, with no educational perspective, dictating from Baton Rouge how children learn and who will teach. 

·         Teachers who are committed to working two years and moving away. 


The tiny power elite that will continue to allow for-profit concerns like the failing Edison Learning, Mosaica, Leona, and K-12, Inc., to harvest top dollar profit for Wall Street hedge funds doesn’t believe there is a unified solidarity in opposition to its privatization scheme.  That is what the power elite behind Jindal believe.  They are convinced the huge majority that stayed home rather than vote Jindal will dance any jig demanded.


The power elite in Louisiana may be right.  It may be that the majority wishes to remain silent just so long as they are left alone.  The fact shines brightly, however, that their kids and grandchildren will not be left alone.  The Civil War was fought over one kind of slavery.  Perhaps what is going on in Ohio, Wisconsin, Wall Street, Long Island, and Rhode Island is an awakening  of that sleeping giant to the fact that there is an economic slavery emerging.


When voters by the millions turn out to recall legislators in Wisconsin and then begin a petition campaign to recall their governor, that has to be noticed.


When millions of voters in Ohio rebel at the excesses of their Republican Governor’s program and succeed at the polls in rescinding that program, that has to be noticed. 


When public education stakeholders in Rhode Island bring the capitol to a stand-still and roll back "education reform”, that too is likely to serve notice that free market imperialism has been warned.


When the Police Chief of Baton Rouge publicly states that lack of education will mandate even more prisons and calls for making education the state’s top priority, it is the province of educators to define what is needed based upon research and experience not experimentation.


Quelling the unrest and discontent with repression is not likely an option.  It has not been so in Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Ohio, and will not likely be in Louisiana either.


Education stakeholders’ voices need to be raised and their collective muscle seen because there is plenty of evidence and public statements showing that Gov. Jindal is intent on burying public education.  Less this statement be misunderstood the publisher of the Livingston Parish News wrote:  " Mr. (John) White (RSD Superintendent)expressed to me personally his desire to close down every public school in the state of Louisiana including the ones that we think are doing well like Livingston Parish.


 A band of education stakeholders has been joining hands to protect the education of our youth.  The depth and strength of their commitment will be sorely tested in 2012.


Don Whittinghill

Consultant – Baton Rouge



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