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Union hack's remarks show necessity of education reform

Previously, this space discussed fractures within the education reform movement in Louisiana, mentioning its opponents only in passing. To illuminate their place in the debate, one needs only to focus on one recent incident to understand why they encapsulate everything that made the state’s educational system a laughingstock for so long.

Interestingly, it was one of their own, Bernard Taylor, the superintendent of the East Baton Rouge Parish School District, who stirred the bats in the belfry. As a motivational tool, he rewarded by publishing in newsprint the names of over 1,000 district teachers who rated in the highest category of the state’s new, somewhat improved, teacher evaluation instrument known as COMPASS.

This disturbed one Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers, who in the past with these kinds of arguments treated policy-makers to a display of crepuscular intellect. He claimed this broke the law because evaluation results “are confidential, do not constitute a public record, and shall not be released or shown to any person” outside of personnel actions internal to a district or as part of a court case.


Populist legacy threatens to derail LA education reforms

Along with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chairman Chas Roemer, state Superintendent John White is one of the three most despised individuals by established political powers and special interests in education in Louisiana. Yesterday he made a bid to go to the head of that class and then some by laying out a stunningly accurate assessment of the state of reform and where it’s headed in Louisiana and maybe elsewhere.

In remarks made to the invaluable American Enterprise Institute, White noted that the enemies of reform include not just the usual suspects – teacher unions, educrats, and ideological fellow-traveling policy-makers that are invested in the current government-monopoly model because of the power and privilege it brings them – but also those who preach reform yet allow themselves to become coopted by that system and those who become opponents of beneficial reform only because it gets a policy foothold. The latter category of individuals particularly is noteworthy and disproportionate in size in Louisiana because of its political culture.

The former bunch’s source of antipathy is well known and its causes well understood – by expanding choice in education, this exposes the self-serving, hidebound nature of the structure it has built and nurtured. That since the advent of the first charter schools the vast preponderance of scholarly work has demonstrated their performance is superior to that of government monopoly schools, affirmed by the latest and most comprehensive study, and particularly in Louisiana, only this attitude can explain why they view choice as such a threat. As White noted, choice has not only the effect of reducing bureaucratic command and control that frees creativity and innovation, but that this very maze of regulations acts to insulate and protect vested interests.


Without federal change, LA state flood insurer idea impractical

Today higher, in some cases much higher, premiums go into effect for flood insurance across the country, but disproportionately so in Louisiana. Last week, state Treas. John Kennedy said he wanted to start a conversation about what the state could do to lower these rates. And when we do it, it turns out to be a lot of hot air.

Kennedy’s suggested that the state create its own, basic flood insurance program with the federal program as a catastrophic backstop that might allow combined rates overall to come down. He figured this possible as state authorities could factor in to pricing elements such as locally-built levees not considered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in its determination of flood risk used by the National Flood Insurance Program. He said a similar state insurer, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, might serve as a model.

Whether that would produce an outcome of lower aggregate pricing is anybody’s guess, but Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon sees certainly it would increase the administrative complexity. He also noted this is not something the state unilaterally could do in any event, for changes to federal law would have to be made to alter its nature to accommodate.


Appointment reaction reminds of liberalism's bankruptcy

It was the Braindead Goes Wild when the larger world learned of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s appointment of Family Research Council Pres. Tony Perkins to a state commission, illustrating the intellectual bankruptcy of today’s liberalism and the surrender of any rational thinking by some homosexual support lobbies.

In April, Jindal tabbed Perkins to join the Commission on Law Enforcement as one of his 26 appointees to the 55-member body, which provides policy advice and direction on law enforcement and public safety issues. While the FRC is located in Washington, DC, Perkins still lives in Baton Rouge and is a former law enforcement officer and state legislator.

Unnoticed at the time, only last week did this raise any ruckus as groups that have advocated for special rights in public law for those who practice homosexuality condemned the decision ratified months ago, echoing the bigots that comprise the Southern Poverty Law Center that brand the FRC a “hate group.” This provided talking points parroted by the mainstream media and other hangers-on drinking the Kool-Aid.


Reject extensive retirement arrangments oversight by LA

A proposal by state Sen. Troy Brown scored him a small press notice, but makes one wonder whether it will turn into just another exercise of big government.

Brown announced that, in a few months hence, he will file legislation establishing a state program aimed at small business employee retirement options, which he describes as “a simple, cost-effective system of tax-qualified retirement savings accounts for private-sector employees. Generally, the idea is to provide employees whose employers do not offer retirement benefits a way to pool their voluntary payroll deductions through a statutorily-established framework. The retirement savings would be invested as a pool in low-risk investments with reduced fees as compared to an individual trying to build up a retirement nest egg.”

He put the word out now because he plans to invite business and employee groups to give comments and make proposals relevant to the idea. Whatever product emerges he argues fills a need, for only half of all private sector workers have access to a sponsored plan of some kind, and a majority of those receiving Social Security report it is at least half of their income.