FIRST: In case you missed it, noted education reform expert Diane Ravitch was in Lafayette recently speaking to the Louisiana School Boards Association about Jindal’s education reform plans. She wrote about her thoughts on the proposed reform:
The bill is as punitive as possible with respect to public education and teachers. It says nothing about helping to improve or support them. It’s all about enabling students to leave public schools and creating the tools to intimidate and fire teachers. This “reform” is not conservative. I would say it is radical and reactionary. But it is in no way unique to Louisiana.
Gov. Jindal is in a race to the bottom with other Republican governors to see who can move fastest to destroy the underpinnings of public education and to instill fear in the hearts of teachers.
You can read the rest of her scathing comments here – she closes with some good questions:
Why does the media let them get away with it? Why does anyone think that this will be good for our society in the short term or the long term? Why have the monied interests decided to privatize large swaths of public education? What happens to our democracy when the public sector is effectively whittled away or purchased by big money?
SECOND: Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Louisiana BAEO (Black Alliance for Educational Opportunities). This group is helping push Jindal’s reforms statewide among the African-American community, but let’s just skip the bullshit and see it for what it is — an organization pushing for the commercialization of education that is playing dirty politics in the process. Let’s check out the evidence.
LaBAEO’s leader is Eric B. Lewis, a black Republican activist and “consultant” from Baton Rouge. It seems he owns “Sable International,” a consulting firm through which he provides business advice to companies hawking education services while simultaneously pushing the legislation that would push more black kids into for-profit charter schools.
Here’s a release encouraging parents to attend an “educational conference” hosted by LaBAEO that says the following:
In addition to its support of the SSEE program, LaBAEO has worked closely with allies to create awareness and support for charter schools, homeschooling, magnet schools, and supplemental educational services or afterschool programs. LaBAEO has been committed to providing parents with information on a range of existing and emerging educational options in Louisiana.
When pitching the same “educational conference” to SES providers (supplemental education services – a cottage industry that has emerged since the passage of No Child Left Behind), LaBAEO called it what it was — a way to make money off parents –
LaBAEO is hosting the perfect opportunity for SES providers servicing schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to engage parents and market their services (Brand Awareness).
It is difficult to say this isn’t another case of dirty politics when the guy trying to pitch Jindal’s plans to the black community is an active Republican operative. Here is Eric Lewis’ Republicans for Black Empowerment page.
Some African-American Democrats seem all too eager to jump on this bandwagon. State Representative Patrick Williams stood next to Lewis when he held a press conference in Shreveport in February and has worked closely with the organization.