Baton Rouge has gone through a trial by fire over the years, concerning the federal government’s desegregation mandate in 1956. Until 1981, resistance stood in the way of significant progress.
The accord finally reached in 2003 is still in force today, after federal stewardship from 2003-2007. The racial balance achieved since 2003 is tenuous at best, with a decreasing percentage of white students lost to the Central, Baker and Zachary school districts.
Now, state Sen. Bodi White wants to take St. George’s contribution to the tax base and dig a moat around it. Mr. White is careful with his words, but he is quoted as saying: “People say it’s just white flight. It’s not true. It’s middle-class and upper middle-class flight, is what it is.” So, it seems to me this is a classic case of denial; in other words, Mr. White is faced with a fact that is uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting it is not what may be overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Furthermore, Norman Browning, one of the campaign organizers, is quoted as saying: “First and foremost people want better schools, but what they recognize is that we can have a great city as well.” Oh, I see, let’s sign the petition freeing us from any responsibility toward Baton Rouge proper, because we “can have a great city as well.” Psychologically, this is diffusion of responsibility when others are present doing the same thing (in this case inaction towards the underprivileged in Baton Rouge).
In a curious and desperate attempt to advertise their issue, a C.L. Bryant gathered most of the time at St. George’s public meeting, a man from another state, Texas. It’s as if salesmen are coming in to convince their own wavering citizens to sign.
The federal government left us alone after 2007 to work toward an overall solution for our school system, under obligation for the complete system, not for just, “middle-class and upper middle-class” children. Mr. White, Mr. Browning, Mr. Bryant and their minions, is this the legacy you desire to pass on to posterity, leaving delinquent our children? The federal government ultimately yielded the entire authority to us, and to you three men also. We are liable for the all children in this parish.
Let’s not go the way of Detroit! White, Browning, Bryant and their “people” wanting to take their marbles and run away from the game is not the change Baton Rouge needs.
Local 557 Baton Rouge Firefighters