Letter: Independence feels good

The governor’s feelings are hurt. The Legislature is beginning to try out some independence, and he doesn’t think they should do that. He has tweeted that they are cooking up a “secret” budget plan “with no public input.” His newly installed revenue secretary has also written a letter to the editor calling it an “ultimate irony” that Legislators were cutting out “the voice of the people” as they develop a budget plan without the governor’s guidance.

The true irony is that the Jindal administration has a long history of completely ignoring the voice of the people as it developed and passed legislation through a previously more-compliant and willing Legislature.

Last year, he got the Legislature to go along in lock-step with a set of “educational reforms” that was approved by a committee that heard and ignored the voices of hundreds of people. The Recovery School District that he created even earlier has proven totally ineffective in improving the schools it took over, and has refused repeated requests from local people to give them back again.

Maybe he’s forgotten that his minions expanded a pseudo-successful voucher program in New Orleans into one that has handed hundreds of millions of tax dollars to private and church-based schools — some of which had no classrooms and no academic standards. One even planned to use DVDs instead of hiring teachers. Over the objections of thousands of teachers and hundreds of locally elected officials, they were allowed to open for up to four years before being held even slightly accountable for the service they provide to children.

Now two unlikely allies, the liberal Black Caucus and the all-white all-conservative Fiscal Hawks, have put some backbone into the Legislature and the governor knows what it’s like to feel powerless. Will the legislative revolution succeed? Who knows? Will it teach this arrogant and dictatorial administration a little humility? I doubt it. But in the meantime I’m enjoying the view.

Russ Wise

St. John Parish School Board member,
vice president, Louisiana School Boards Association

LaPlace