Monday, April 9, 2012

Governor Jindal's 23 Day Rush to Reform

Governor Bobby Jindal's divisive teacher reform legislation has passed and implementation now begins.  In just 23 days Governor Jindal and his machine pushed through a comprehensive education reform package that has drawn sharp criticism and vociferous protests from teachers around the state, many of whom feel targeted, attacked and betrayed by the governor.

What was the rush?  Why the midnight votes and rushed sessions?  Why the limited debate and public input?

Recently I was having dinner in a very small, upscale, restaurant and seated nearby was a large table of jovial, outspoken local political leaders.  It was impossible not to overhear their conversation.  Several of them surmised that Jindal's rush to get this education reform package through so quickly was to sweeten the draw to him as a vice presidential candidate.  (Oh I know, he denies he wants the position but don't they all say that?)

Elliot Stonecipher has similar thoughts about Jindal's rush to reform:

Those of us keeping up with what happens behind the political curtain have a bad feeling of deja vu on that score.  I’ve written about it enough, and won’t belabor it, but the fact is Governor Jindal strong-arms these “reforms” through a pre-leased legislature each time he’s hoping to be the vice presidential candidate on his party’s ticket.  Ramping up to the 2008 presidential election it was “ethics reform,” and four years later as we gird for the 2012 campaign it’s “education reform.”  The problem is, “ethics reform” was no such thing.  It was, rather, a huge political show for a national audience which, back here on the farm, put governors and legislators in charge of ethics enforcement.  That is never a good thing anywhere, but maybe especially not in Louisiana.  For those who keep up, we know our governmental ethics regime was not reformed, it was hammered into submission by those who are, or figure they might be on any given day, unethical.

It's a thought.  Jindal has long been touted as a top name on most everyone's short list for VP candidates.  His ability to now say that he has "reformed public education in Louisiana" would be a big selling point, especially with conservatives, many of whom believe that charter schools are the answer to many public education problems.

I do not count myself in that group, by the way.  I see lots of charter schools with problems.  I also see lots of problems with Jindal's package, but that's another post.

George Will has written a piece in support of Jindal for vice president:

"Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal, 40, was a 20-year-old congressional staffer when he authored a substantial report on reforming Medicare financing. At 24, he became head of Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals, with 12,000 employees and 40 percent of the state budget. Back inWashington at 26, he was executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. In 1999, he became president of Louisiana's state university system, which has 80,000 students. In 2001, he served as an assistant secretary of health and human services. He became governor after three years in Congress."

There are many in Louisiana who would be glad for Jindal to get that opportunity.  Jeff Crouere is not impressed:

Today in Louisiana, we are facing another fiscal crisis. Job growth is anemic, crime is rampant, poverty is high, our educational system is in shambles, and our road conditions are deplorable. Our population is stagnant as we have lost a quarter of our congressional delegation in the last two decades. Governing Magazine just named Louisianaas the most corrupt state in the nation. 

Jindal might the one of the Republican darlings of the nation at large but in Louisiana there are plenty of us holding our noses.

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