An investigation by The Nation follows the money and connects the dots in last year’s state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education elections. The campaigns generated 10 times more spending than the 2007 election as some powerful, wealthy, out-of-state education reform supporters including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars to select BESE candidates, ensuring that the board would be stacked in reformer-in-chief Gov. Bobby Jindal’s favor as he rammed sweeping changes to public education through earlier this year.
Much of the campaign cash, Nation writer Matthew Cunningham-Cook reports, was poured into BESE candidates supported by Jindal. Only one candidate opposed by Jindal, the outspoken Lottie Beebe, beat the odds. Six others backed by the out-of-state benefactors and related political action committees won their races, outspending their opponents to order of nearly 12-to-one. BESE is an 11-member board, so it’s now controlled by Jindalistas backed by this across-the-border largesse. And Jindal had a singular goal in mind, one shared by Bloomberg: getting John White approved by BESE as state superintendent. As Cunningham-Cook reports, that soon came to pass:
The new reform-minded board was sworn in on January 9, and two days later the BESE called a special meeting to confirm John White as state superintendent. It wasn’t long before the state’s political class, led by Governor Jindal, began discussing educational privatization on a scale incomparable to anywhere else in the nation, save for what happened in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
White, a champion of school reform and Teach for America alumnus who previously served as deputy chancellor of NYC public schools before a one-year stint as superintendent of the Recovery School District — in 2011, the year of his tenure, the RSD received a state score of D — has been a dutiful champion of Jindal’s ideological embrace of reforms that effectively dismantle public teacher unions and siphon millions of tax dollars away from the public school system and into private and charter schools.
It’s a tangled web, indeed. Read the whole story here.
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OCT 31 The National Journal posts another story from its visit to NOLA, this one about the struggling Vietnamese shrimpers in the area. The publication has been looking at how the state is recovering from Katrina, nine years later.
OCT 31 The New York Times posts this look at Louisiana politics, and how national issues are forcing out the old-time local politicking. Of course they mention EWE, aptly described as an old-time politician known for "charming one half of the state and mortifying the other."
OCT 31 Here's an AP story on the ABC site about Louisiana's chicken little response to an international medical conference planned in NOLA this weekend. Organizers (who are actual physicians, as opposed to the hand-wringing state officials who issued the edicts) say the orders are "unfortunate" given that a main focus of the meeting was Ebola.
OCT 31 Given the things Bobby Jindal has said and done since he's been governor, it's a pretty safe bet he thinks we're a bunch of dummies. Apparently, he's sure President Obama is one, too. This story on Huff Post quotes Jindal as saying the president - a graduate of Harvard Law - should sue to get his money back. (What should a Brown biology grad who doesn't believe in evolution do?)
OCT 31 Us old folks are used to a two-party system, although most of us aren't sold on its success. But what if that system wasn't in place; what if politics reflected the true level of diversity among voters? That's what an LSU student is dreaming of in this editorial. He sees the two parties' control of our politics as limiting.
OCT 31 And you thought the Senate race was dirty. This post on the Forward Now blog tells the story of a Shreveport mayoral campaign worker who was paid to "infiltrate" and "sabotage" an opponent's campaign. Karma's a beeotch, though, because turns out the guy really liked the "enemy," and now he's supporting her. For real.
OCT 30 The National Journal offers this analysis of Bobby Jindal's willingness to stump in any Senate campaign that's not in Louisiana. Why is that? The Journal asks some GOPers and finds that the answer is one we already know: he's so unpopular here, because he's been so busy running for President, that his support might be "toxic."
OCT 30 Blogger Tom Aswell is still all over the OGB mess - and all by himself, apparently. In this post, he's revealing orders from the Jindal administration to destroy records from the state employee health insurance plan. Those orders (he's heard) have angered the Secretary of State and caused an administration lawyer to quit her job. Wow!
OCT 30 A NOLA lady has alleged she was drugged and raped at a Bywater club that had a clothing-optional policy until recently, and she's now become the victim of a smear campaign, columnist Jarvis DeBerry writes in this post. She chose to reveal her story and her name, and she's being punished for that now, he says.
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