Gov. Bobby Jindal, still basking in his sweeping legislative victories in passing major school choice reforms including a statewide private school voucher program and a vast expansion of charter schools, will serve as the keynote speaker for the third annual National Policy Summit scheduled for May 3-4 in Jersey City, N.J.

The national school choice summit is the brainchild of the American Federation for Children, a collective of national conservative groups with membership ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council and a widely known agenda to privatize public education. AFC, which boasts established lobbying groups in most states (Louisiana included) and contributes heavily to the Black Alliance for Education Options (seen on TV ads statewide during Jindal’s education reform push), is led by Amway-heiress Betsy DeVos. She touts Jindal’s “strong leadership and bipartisan approach” in a press release announcing the summit:
Governor Jindal’s appearance will come on the heels of a statewide, bipartisan expansion of the New Orleans voucher program, which the governor signed into law just last week. The recently-approved voucher expansion will make more than 380,000 students—almost half of Louisiana’s public school population—from low-income families in the state’s poorest-performing schools eligible to attend a private school of their parents’ choice.

“We are truly thrilled that one of the nation’s most committed education reformers will join us for our 2012 Policy Summit,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the American Federation for Children. “Governor Jindal serves as an example of how strong leadership and a bipartisan approach can improve the lives of children, and we can’t wait to hear how he will inspire other governors across the country to stand up for children.”
AFC’s description of Jindal’s “bipartisan” education reform effort isn’t wholly inaccurate — but it does conveniently omit the reason for much of the Democratic support in the Legislature. As pointed out by Associated Press writer Kevin McGill in a recent column, the few Democrats who joined in supporting Jindal’s education package were likely the victims of “Team Jindal’s political hardball:”
Among the approximately one-third of legislators who voted against the bills, most were Democrats. But some Democrats crossed party lines to vote for the measure. One factor was that Team Jindal played political hardball — relieving one Democrat who voted against a related bill of his committee vice chairmanship. But, it could also be argued that Jindal wouldn’t have gotten votes from any Democrats who didn’t think they could defend those votes to their constituents.
Read the full American Federation for Children release here.
Read McGill’s column in full here.

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