Monday, April 22, 2013

Time to Scrap Blueprint for Disaster

A Response to Blueprint Louisiana

By Dayne Sherman
4/22/13 - Words: 600
Published in the Daily Star

Jimmy Maurin’s recent letter, “Legislators should re-enactschool reforms,” says Gov. Bobby Jindal’s education “reforms” were bold, his education plans great for Louisiana, and legislators need to redo what the courts, educators, and public opinion have labeled a failure.

Maurin is a successful Hammond businessman, the head of Stirling Properties, which owns Hammond Square Mall. He’s also the Chairman of Blueprint Louisiana, a Bayou State equivalent to the AmericanLegislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

If Blueprint members truly cared about improving Louisiana education outcomes instead of privatizing, they would scrap Jindal’s unconstitutional education reforms and start over. We have been there and done that. It’s time to move on. 

Rather than doubling down on “The Stupid Party,” Blueprint should push for several changes that would make a positive difference to Louisiana education.

First, class size is the biggest change needed. Cap class sizes at 15 for struggling schools and 20 for schools on solid footing. We’ll see major improvements overnight with this needed change.

Second, disband the so-called education reformers’ model school system, the failed Recovery School District. It’s the second worst district in Louisiana, and one of the worst school districts in the developed world. It is full of fiscal mismanagement and abuse. The RSD has lost millions of dollars, according to recent reports, and it’s doing PR spin and damage control 24/7. Because the RSD is the model for reform, nothing will be done about the scandalous fraud and lost tax dollars.

Third, there should be no waivers of credentials for unqualified superintendents. This practice has been a total flop. Let’s consider State Superintendent John White. He has been in way over his head since his first day on the job—after he left as superintendent of the RSD. He is unqualified to serve as an assistant principal in Tangipahoa Parish. How on earth can he be allowed to serve as the head of the entire state education establishment? Let him go back home to New York and drive a cab.

Fourth, the Louisiana Department of Education has scrubbed key data from its new website. When White and LDOE claim graduation rates have improved, it is impossible to verify. This should lead to the termination of decision-makers. 

Last, repeal Jindal’s 2008 creationist education law, the Louisiana Science Education Act. Seventy-eight Nobel Prize-winning scientists have signed on asking for its repeal. The LSEA makes Louisiana education a 19th century model instead of a 21st century learning environment. Bottom line, the LSEA kills jobs. Let’s get rid of it.

Much of so-called education reform is nothing but a ruse intended to steal local, state, and federal dollars. Jindalesque reform is unconstitutional, and legislation passed in 2012 fixed none of the real problems Louisiana schools face. 

As business leaders, Maurin and Blueprint know it is disastrous to make decisions based on bad information. A real fix for what ails Louisiana is possible, but Jindal’s reforms were little more than a con job designed to help his delusional presidential bid.

Blueprint and its cadre of businessmen have hitched their wagon to our governor’s self-serving vision for Louisiana. Bobby Jindal’s heart is the size of a butterbean. He’s no one to follow.

It’s about time to unhitch the wagon. Jindal has steered the state into a deep ditch.

And I have news for Blueprint Louisiana: The common people of this state have wised up. The country club set should do the same.

Dayne Sherman lives in Ponchatoula and is the author of Welcometo the Fallen Paradise: A Novel. His website is
Dayne Sherman, Writer, Speaker, Scholar
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