Keeping Up Appearances in Louisiana

You might remember that after Hurricane Katrina, forces on the Right closed down many public schools in New Orleans and rammed a voucher system into place to replace the old system.

Louisiana officials insist that the voucher program is delivering a better education to Louisiana students. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu says that reform has been made possible by sapping the power of the teachers’ unions, because you know how teachers just hate education.

However, as Freddie deBoer points out,

As several commenters on the post discuss, a population decrease of somewhere between a quarter to a third of a city’s residents would make apples to apples comparisons a bit difficult, wouldn’t you say? Especially when the three demographic features most consistently correlated with educational outcomes—economic class, race, and parents’ education level—each had a significant post-Katrina swing towards the groups most likely to score highly. Might be worth mentioning!

If only we had some sort of systematized guidelines for how to accurately evaluate sociological data….

In May some reporters visited a private school in the voucher program. Turned out the school had no library, and the curriculum appeared to consist of showing the kids Christian DVDs. The school also intended to charge voucher students higher tuition than non-voucher students.

In other words, the school didn’t come close to meeting the requirements for teaching the 315 voucher students the state said it could accept. Asked about the lax oversight, the state education department said it would let parents decide if their children were being educated or not.

Now other reporters have turned up emails between State Superintendent of Schools John White and officials in Gov. Jindal’s administration about how this little mess might be spun away. The idea was to “muddy up” the newspaper narrative somehow.

The bottom line is that this voucher nonsense was imposed on poor Louisiana by players in the private education industry — who are profiting, no doubt — plus Christian conservatives. Providing better education has nothing to do with this. See also “Jindal’s Louisiana Vouchers Face Growing Legal Backlash.”

Related — last week Gov. Jindal signed a budget that eliminates all state funding for public libraries.

8 thoughts on “Keeping Up Appearances in Louisiana

  1. “…the state education department said it would let parents decide if their children were being educated or not.”

    Yes, because it’s in the nation’s best interest to make sure that children are only educated to whatever level their parents deem necessary and/or desirable.
    And if parents want their children to be as stupid, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic, as they are, or more, well, that’s THEIR RIGHT!

    Why waste time on teaching children “The Three R’s,” when all the parents want them to know are ‘The Three C’s:’ Christ, Conservatism, and Contempt For Others?

    Apparently, we don’t want a population that actually can read and understand The Constitution – just pronounce it correctly as they’re yelling about it at the top of their lungs when someone strays from the first two of ‘The Three C’s.’

    Maybe we had some sort of mental swine flu epidemic, and never knew it.
    ‘Cause a lot more people have become “pig ignorant” recently – my apologies to actual swine, who are nowhere near as stupid and ignorant as the human swine’s on the right.

    I’m starting to think that eventually devolving into just an “Idiocracy” is far too lofty a goal for too many in this country.
    I think they’re shooting for a ‘Theocratic Moronacy.’

  2. Oy!
    “…swine…”, not ‘swine’s.”

    I love the preview – now, ken we pleeze haz “Edit”?

  3. That’s how the free market works in the educational system. Here, in melting-hot dairy land, voucher schools underperform the public schools. Charter schools routinely rip-off the state by closing their doors after they receive their money and then disappear. Having parents decide what schools will succeed and which ones won’t assumes a few HUGE things. One, that parents know how their school is doing, which is actually a very difficult proposition. Two, that they can find another school that will do better and are willing to bounce their child around from school to school until they find the best one. And when they find it, it will probably be full. Studies have shown that parents are unwilling to move their kids around like that, which makes sense. They will move them once, but then that’s it. And after a parent has moved their kid, what about the kids that are left behind. Is it ok to provide ‘Jesus DVD’ education to kids whose parents are unwilling to move their kids?
    I have an idea, how about we make an effort to put high quality teachers in every classroom, and give them a curriculum they can teach that will be beneficial to ALL kids? You know, kind of the way that the schools were run back before Saint Ronnie became Prez. You know, the Golden Age that many of these Jihadist Repugs look to.

  4. Soylent Green is people!

    (a somewhat oblique reference to how much GOP tools give a “Fick” about the people they “serve”)

    I particularly dislike Jindal, because “cynical opportunist” is written particularly large on his brow. He wasn’t born a “Good Old Boy”, who could blame it on too much illegal hooch in utero.

  5. What do you know. Lax oversight from a Republican administration. To them “fiscal responsibility” means randomly slashing budgets and waiting for magical things to happen. You’d think real budget hawks would want to pay close attention to the small amount of money they’re willing to let the government spend.

    This is something Steve Benen points out often, how the Republican approach to budget cutting tends to waste more money than it saves. Like cutting the budget for the IRS, where the savings are more than offset by the resulting loss of tax revenue.

    Of course, poorly educated people are less likely to realize that Republican economic policy these days is a gigantic fraud.

  6. Poorly educated people, tend to make great rubes, marks, and fools, for Conservative grifters.

    They lack the critical skills that anyone who’s not one of the above knows – that there’s now way to ever walk away from a Three-card Monty game with anything in their pockets if they play long enough.

    And this insures generations of Jesusey-flavored morons who will believe any wedge issue Conservatives put before them – in other words, “God, guns, and gays” – and evil Liberals, Muslims, and Atheists, of course.

  7. I remember growing up in a decent public school system in Pennsylvania, where every few years, state officials would swoop down for about a week, scoping the school out, all with the aim reaffirming or denying the school systems’s accreditation. It seemed like such a routine thing, all because the dominant mindset, liberalism posits that a smooth running society benefits everybody, and when everybody benefits, EVERYBODY benefits. Because everyone took education seriously, the state always ended up giving the school system mostly good marks. Because the school was on the receiving end of state money it was about more than just education.

    It’s like water quality inspectors, or any other kind of quality control we just take for granted in a civilized world. I cannot imagine all the thousand or so parents in my school district trying to come up with their own judgment as to whether the school system is sound or not. Or trying to assess whether the tap water out of their faucet is good enough. What a waste of time.

    BuckyBlue wrote: …how about we make an effort to put high quality teachers in every classroom, and give them a curriculum they can teach that will be beneficial to ALL kids? You know, kind of the way that the schools were run back before Saint Ronnie became Prez. You know, the Golden Age that many of these Jihadist Repugs look to.

    Gulag posted the 2012 Texas GOP platform a couple weeks ago. My brother pointed out a section of this platform (which made the news at Huffington Post), about how the GOP is explicitly against teaching “higher thinking skills”, in other words critical thinking, that would “challenge authority or fixed beliefs”. BuckyBlue, the GOP doesn’t see the time before President Ronnie as the Golden Age – they see that period of time as the root cause for the mess we’re in: Too many people thinking for themselves. Conservatives hate the 1960s.

    No, the GOP wants to take us back to the Middle Ages, where people would know their place. And if people want to be educated, it’s up to them to get it. If they want clean water, same story – do it yourself.

    Sara Robinson wrote a great piece a week or two ago (it’s on I think, it’s worth looking up) about how the formerly dominant northern Yankee puritanism has given way in this country to the southern plantation mindset. Maha has touched on this theme in a number of ways also. If you were a Yankee who made it rich, you then felt obliged to help your fellow man – and many of our best presidents came out of this belief system: FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and even Poppy Bush. By contrast, the southern plantation mindset is all about: If you became rich, you then have to beat down everybody else. GW Bush jr is the prototype. So is Boss Jindal of Louisiana.

    And I would add, that it all came about because of the invention of air conditioning. This made the south habitable and shifted the country’s economic center of gravity toward the sunbelt. Think about that, the next time you flip on the A/C.

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