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Empire strikes back to protect itself at children's expense

I don’t know what the record is for number of misdirected and ignorant assertions per word in a delivered statement, but jockeying for top position must be one issued by the Louisiana Coalition for Public Education, in reference to announced efforts by the Alliance for Better Classrooms to lobby for election of reform-minded members this fall for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

This group, backed by organizations of school boards, school administrators, and teachers unions, desperately opposes the ABC effort, organized by businessmen and political leaders unlike them with no financial ties to the existing educational system. The opposition has taken on such a desperate tone precisely because the reform group supports measures such as increased accountability in both spending money and delivering results and more parental choice to end the government monopoly on education, which, as ABC notes, is a direct threat to the education establishment’s long history in Louisiana of failing to “protect the rights of the students,” rather than those of “the adults who benefit from the payrolls of the school system.”

Understand that the LCPE represents the interests of those who failed Louisiana children and families by providing substandard education for decades, and fought tooth-and-nail reforms established beginning 15 years ago that have created steady improvement.
As these reforms threaten jobs of the establishment, both those directed by patronage from elected officials and those of low performers among teachers and administrators, as well as forces them to work harder and smarter to justify their salaries that make them among the highest paid occupations in the state when adjusted for actual work time, it was not surprising to see the empire strike back with pitifully stupid assertions.

The theme the chatter tried to foist was the ABC organizers wanted to “profit” off of public schools – as if the interests behind the LCPE have not been doing so by presenting a shoddy project not worth the taxpayer investment committed. Naturally, it presented no evidence that ABC would do this and repeated the tired, discredited, and revelatory notion that any policy that could remove money from public schooling starved schools of money that would make them worse because, according to the group’s ethos, no policy but more money for public schools can be acceptable – despite enormous per student sums now being spent.

Never mind that research shows that in Louisiana the performance of one alternative, choice-driven policy approach, charter schools, produce children who improve at a faster rate than in traditional schools – and at reduced average cost. All the LCPE can muster to address this is the claim that the majority of the 50 lowest-performing schools in the state are charter schools – somehow neglecting to mention that charter schools in Louisiana by definition start operations by taking over the worst schools to begin with, so that any of the worst performers aren’t charter schools of recent vintage, but instead are traditional public schools, is another indictment about the poor quality of education the group tries to defend.

Note also how the group, in forwarding the grand conspiracy theory that reform supporters personal stand to profit through reform efforts (even though, as an example, many charter operations are small, featuring a large degree of volunteerism) neatly sidesteps the real question – do the reforms improve student performance? In other words, who cares whether public or non-public agencies get the money, and how much “profit” (if any) is made, as long as students do well? While this attitude should not surprise, as the establishment interests behind the group never have put children’s needs before their own, avoiding this kind of discussion reaffirms the inherent selfishness of the empire’s minions and its entire lack of seriousness in wanting to improve education in the state if it in any way impacts negatively the fortunes of its protected members – because it knows what the conclusions are and that they reflect badly on its position.

In sum, the LCPE response to the ABC’s stated agenda reflects the tactic of displacement and distraction – accuse your opponents of doing what you do to deflect attention you do not want away from your own activities. The education establishment behind this group has shortchanged Louisiana taxpayers and disserved students and families for decades, and would like nothing more than to continue doing the same on the gravy train it enjoyed for so long. It thinks the Louisiana public is stupid enough to buy its facile, selective argumentation – because, after all, it trained most of them. Hopefully, the voting public will prove these mandarins wrong.

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