Monthly Archives: July 2012
The sharp wits over at the Washington Post aren’t fooled by wunderkids John White and Bobby Jindal’s voucher disaster:
From the you-can’t-make-up-this-stuff department: Louisiana’s governor and schools chief are championing an “accountability” plan for private schools in the state’s voucher program that doesn’t hold these schools accountable if they have fewer than 40 voucher students.
Yes, as this Reuters story makes clear, a school can allow its 39 voucher students to fail to show basic competency in reading, math, social studies and science and still keep receiving state funds. Most of the schools in the voucher program this coming year, it turns out, will be covered by this provision.What happens to schools with 40 or more voucher students? Not as much as you might think. Schools will be assigned a numerical grade based on the standardized test scores of their voucher students, and if a school score is less than 50 out of 150 points, that school can’t bring in any more voucher students.Yes, they still can receive public money. No, they don’t have to kick out the voucher students already there.How’s that for accountability in this “age of accountability?”
How come we haven’t heard anything about this from school reformers pushing accountability? Why is this acceptable?
It’s only acceptable because “choice advocates, in their zeal to protect their limited-admission charter schools sold their soul to Jindal in order to maintain their status quo. Jindal wanted to open up the “competition” to lunatic fringe religious schools because that’s the horse he rode in on. And now that Jindal is making it clear that he is only interested in the fulfillment of national political ambitions, he could care less about the outcomes of the implementation:
Incidentally, this is being championed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, the man that presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has praised specifically for his education policies. Jindal is said to be on Romney’s short list for vice president, but secretary of education may be more likely.
The issues of vouchers is one area in education policy where there is a sharp division between Romney and President Obama; Obama opposes vouchers.
The voucher program is a result of a new law that allows the state to offer vouchers to more than half of the students in the state, expand the number of privately managed charter schools and do other scary things, including giving letter grades to preschoolers. It’s rightly been called an assault on public education.
Though some 450,000 students were eligible for vouchers, about 10,000 applied, with most of the slots in Christian schools that don’t appear to have the resources to absorb them. What’s more, many of these schools use curriculum that promotes Young Earth Creationism, which holds the belief that the universe is no older than 10,000 years old despite definitive scientific evidence that it is billions of years old.
Luckily, Zack Kopplin provides details on the type of schools now receiving our public tax dollars:
A review of some of these schools was done by Zack Kopplin, a college student spearheading an effort to repeal the misnamed Louisiana Science Education Act, which promotes creationism. Here’s some of what Kopplin found, from his Web site,
* The handbook of the Claiborne Christian School, in West Monroe, LA, says that students are taught to “discern and refute lies commonly found in [secular] textbooks, college classrooms, and in the media.” In the January 2010 school newsletter, the principal promotes young-earth creationist talking points from Answers in Genesis, saying, “Our position at CCS on the age of the Earth and other issues is that any theory that goes against God’s Word is in error.” She also claims that scientists are “sinful men” trying to explain the world “without God” so they don’t have to be “morally accountable to Him.” CCS has 28 voucher slots and can receive up to $238,000 in public money.
* The student handbook of Faith Academy, in Gonzalez, LA, says that as a Household of Faith school, students must “defend creationism through evidence presented by the Bible verses [sic] traditional scientific theory.” FA has 38 voucher slots and can receive up to $323,000 in public money.
*Northeast Baptist School, in West Monroe, uses ABeka and Bob Jones University science textbooks. Researcher and writer Rachel Tabachnick, who examined these textbooks, reports that it is “clear that no instruction is included in the text that would conflict with young earth creationism.” Using such books endangers the educational prospects of students in Christian schools. In 2010, the University of California won a federal lawsuit, ASCI [Association of Christian Schools International] v. Stearns, in which the judge ruled in favor of UC’s right to refuse to recognize high school credits for science classes taken in Christian schools that used such books. UC contended that such instruction is “inconsistent with the viewpoints and knowledge generally accepted in the scientific community.” NBS has 40 voucher slots and can receive up to $340,000 in public money.
*Northlake Christian Elementary School, in Covington, LA, teaches science using both ASCI’s “Purposeful Design Series” and ABeka materials. One Purposeful Design science notebook requires students to “discuss your thoughts about how the complexity of a cell shows that it must be purposefully designed.” NCES, which specifies that “all curricular content is filtered through and presented within a Christian worldview,” has 20 voucher slots and can receive up to $170,000 in public money.
*Northlake Christian High School in Covington uses a secular science textbook but also “integrate[s]” material from “biblical-young-earth, Christian/Creationists,” according to Northlake’s high school biology teacher. He uses sources from Creation Ministries International, Answers in Genesis, and the Institute for Creation Research. This teacher also quotes a creationist book that says, “No coherent, cohesive theology has yet been offered that would allow Christians to embrace evolution with integrity.” Disturbingly, NCHS’s student handbook includes a discrimination policy against prospective students and staff who do not meet “Biblical standards.” NCHS has 30 voucher slots and can receive up to $255,000 in public money.
*The Upperroom Bible Church Academy, in New Orleans, says their “curriculum is dependent upon a biblical philosophy” and according to the National Center for Education Statistics they use the ACE curriculum. They also claim to blatantly attempt to convert their students, saying “we endeavor to win all unsaved students to Jesus Christ.” On top of this, the large numbers of bad reviews from parents seem to suggest the school cares about money much more than the students. The Upperroom Bible Church Academy has 167 voucher slots and can receive up to $1,419,500 in public money annually.
*New Orleans Adventist Academy teaches a creationist curriculum, according to the New Orleans newspaper, Gambit. A science curriculum guide from the Southwest Region Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, to which NOAA belongs, shows that Adventist schools teach children that “God, in six literal days, made the heavens and the earth.” The guide contains references both to young-earth and intelligent design creationist sources. NOAA has 100 voucher slots and can receive up to $850,000 in public money.
You can see more on these schools here.
And if we’ve all forgotten, remember to watch Bobby Jindal, biology major at Brown Unversity, endorse wacky fringe pseudo-science teaching in public schools here:
That’s a powerful image. Arch-segregationist (and more importantly, “States Rights Advocate”) George Wallace was the vanguard of the Republican “southern strategy,” a ploy that largely converted the patrician Dixiecrat south into the culture-warrior corporatist Republican monolith that enveloped the entire south, but only recently washed across Louisiana. Wallace, a Democrat, fought bitterly against what he interpreted was an invasive Federal Government focused on enforcing civil rights in the segregated South. More importantly, Wallace openly defied Federal orders and law to maintain the racial caste system without apology. His dogs and firehoses were the ugly weapons of a race warrior. But Wallace endeared himself to Alabamans nervous at the sudden introduction of modernity and equality into genteel Southern existence.
Wallace, in the end, supported an earnest, but deeply-flawed worldview, and his rearguard action against the forces of justice came from an honest place of traditional racism. You can read an embarrassingly-biased take on Wallace’s political career at the Alabama state history website.
In many ways, we could only hope that our esteemed “states rights” activist Governor had the same purely flawed motivations. Instead, and what boils down to the core of the absolutely cataclysmic reign of Bobby Jindal is his deep-seated cynicism about governing and the people of Louisiana. His motivations are of the most transparently ambitious and contemptuous possible. He acts only to advance his own career without reasoning or concern for the festering disaster he has created.
Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, often mentioned as a potential Congressional Candidate (including on this blog), picked up on this string and slammed Jindal at the Urban League Conference in New Orleans:
Morial also had harsh words for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, comparing him to the segregationist George Wallace for his planned refusal to implement Obama’s health care overhaul. Jindal has stated that he will not expand Medicaid in Louisiana or establish private health insurance exchanges, as the new law encourages states to do so that more citizens will have health insurance.”As I return to this beloved state, I am astonished that this state’s governor, who I met many years ago as a bright and rising star, has embraced the unfortunate rhetoric of the old-time Louisiana politicians,” Morial said. “It sent chills up my spine because it reminded me of names like Leander Perez, Jimmie Davis and George Wallace, who blocked schoolhouse doors, who shut down rather than integrate.”
It appears that Governor “Bobby” Jindal of Louisiana is one of the finalists to hold Willard Romney’s coat from fairly-close-to-now until election day. “Bobby,” as we know, has two other jobs, one as An American Success Story and the other as an Exorcist For Hire, which should take care of the competition, I must say. Although if he can get Chris Christie to levitate, I might vote for him.
(The conservatives already have a pre-emptive defense for the whole “exorcism business,” as they call it. The joke about D.C. needing an exorcism is not bad, but it could backfire on the NRO masthead very badly. But where they got this notion that “every Catholic baptism contains an exorcism” is beyond me, at least as I understand what Jindal claims he did. What is called an “exorcism” in the ritual is not a casting out of demons but, rather, the forgiveness of Original Sin. And there are the baptismal vows, by which every catechumen voluntarily renounces Satan and all his works and his pomps — except, perhaps, for the pompatus of love, but maybe not — and which are taken on behalf of an infant by its godparents. Fans of The Godfather will recall that it also the time when we Papists tend to settle all family business. Anyway, in no sense are either of these an “exorcism.” The Rite of Exorcism stands alone in the Roman Ritual. It is something of an medieval embarrassment to many of the faithful.)
Yesterday, Jindal joined Romney in downtown Baton Rouge for a $50,000/plate lunch and fundraiser that raised upwards of $2 million for the campaign, stoking the rumors that Jindal could get the VP nod. While the two governors railed against Obama at the City Club, state Democratic chairwoman and state senator Karen Carter Peterson (New Orleans) was just a short distance away speaking to the Baton Rouge Press Club where she accused the governor of putting politics above governing and attacked both Senator Vitter and Rep. Scalise in the process:
[Jindal] says he has the job he wants. He needs to act like it. …[and] Has there ever been a time in Louisiana history when a U.S. senator from our state has allowed such harm to be inflicted on our state when he or she had the power to prevent it?
Peterson has shown more leadership and passion since taking over as Party chair in May than any party chair in recent memory. She appeared on LPB’s Louisiana: The State We’re In to defend the Affordable Care Act and vigorously debated the talking points offered up by Rep. Bill Cassidy – full video here.
But what of the speculation around Jindal as VP? Is his “stock rising,” as some suggest? Or has his mismanagement of key aspects of state government mean he’ll have to wait until his 2016 presidential run?
Before being elected governor, the majority of Jindal’s work experience came from the fields of education and healthcare; ironically, two areas that are facing tremendous hardships under his leadership. Since taking office, over 40% of money alloted for Louisiana’s higher education entitieshas been slashed. Over $600 million has been stripped from the state’s colleges and universities.
In addition, Governor Jindal has implemented a school voucher program that deregulates the K – 12 educational system in Louisiana. Jindal’s plan requires little to no accountability. Schools with no universal curriculum — some teaching students from DVDs, some side-stepping over proven science and history — will receive taxpayer money to poorly education Louisiana’s children. Several lawsuits were filed against Jindal by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers. In addition, an effort entitled “Recall Bobby Jindal” has been launched to remove the Governor and some of his legislative allies.
Since the Supreme Court found the Affordable Care Act constitutional, Governor Jindal has announced that he will not implement the law, despite the fact that Louisiana suffers from a serious deficit. On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when asked if he was going to simply not provide coverage to Louisianas who need insurance, Jindal responded with, “every governor’s got two critical decisions to make. One is do we set up these exchanges? And, secondly, do we expand Medicaid? And no, in Louisiana, we’re not doing either one of those things. I don’t think it makes sense to do those. I think it makes more sense to do everything we can to elect Mitt Romney to repeal Obamacare.”
Jindal’s refusal to accept ACA funds seems to not be deterred by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals’ recent announcement that the department must face funding cuts that will have a financial impact on the state of almost $860 million. These cuts will overwhelmingly affect the uninsured and under-insured. Those suffering significant consequences are Louisiana’s most vulnerable residents: the elderly, disabled and those with developmental disabilities. The Louisiana State University hospital system will lose $122 million in the 2013 fiscal year, combined cuts to the system will total a 24% reduction in budget.
Last year, Jindal was re-elected with virtually no opposition. Conventional wisdom suggests that was more of an indicator of the state of the Louisiana Democratic Party than Jindal’s actual job performance. Jindal would solidify Romney’s efforts to court extreme conservatives, and he may also play to the idea that the GOP is becoming an inclusive party that welcomes various races and ethnicities. He would absolutely be the much-needed link between the Romney campaign and Evangelical votes, as Jindal has a long history of pandering to this constituency that may, otherwise, find discomfort in Romney’s Mormon faith.
Mitt Romney has said that he will run America like a corporation. Considering Bobby Jindal’s background is in education and healthcare, two systems headed for disaster under his watch, maybe Louisiana’s governor doesn’t have the work product to prove that he’s ready for the job.