The budget crisis gripped the state all spring and into the summer: old people in nursing homes got letters of eviction; every program imaginable was threatened with loss of funding from TOPS scholarships to food stamps. Eventually, after scaring everyone in the state to death, legislators agreed on a 4.45% sales tax rate to save the day, plus some other shell game moves.
The crisis averted, the governor now looks toward re-election in 2019 and where else to start loading his votes but on the backs of teachers. This plan worked so well for him in his initial run as his wife, a former music teacher, appeared on television asking all of her brethren to vote for her husband because he knows what teachers go through. He believes in teachers, she said.
That may be so, but we still have John White as our State Superintendent of Education and because of that we still have canned, scripted lessons in our classrooms and for that I hold John Bel Edwards responsible.
Granted, Edwards did not hire White; that distinction belongs to Bobby Jindal. And Edwards has at times seemed interested in questioning White's job security:
In a renewal of tensions, Gov. John Bel Edwards said Wednesday his office is reviewing state Superintendent of Education John White's job status.
Edwards, in his statewide radio show, said White should have faced state Senate confirmation during the 2017 regular legislative session, which did not happen. "He needed to be confirmed to continue to serve," the governor said. "We are looking at that situation."
Edwards, an attorney, said the issue may need to be litigated but that he was not prepared to make an announcement.
That was over a year ago.
Efforts through the courts to remove White have failed due to lack of standing; the efforts have not come from Edwards who, according to the court, is one of only four people who could challenge White's contract.
As a teacher, it's probably not in my best interest to criticize John White, but as a human being I do think that the current curriculum that White has implemented across the state is a failure, a mess, and is dangerous to the future of our students.
I know students who used to love reading and love English who now hate it. This is true.
I will never, ever be a fan of a canned, scripted curriculum that strips autonomy from teachers, that removes the teachable moment from the classroom, that requires teachers to read from scripts, annotate thick binders of scripted teacher notes, produce said annotations on demand, display canned PowerPoint slides, or that requires students to read the same non-fiction speeches and texts over and over and over and fill out the same graphic organizers over and over and over for each one.
I could go on, but I'll stop with that.
And for this, I hold John Bel Edwards responsible.
It is almost without exception that each election cycle the politicians use educators and first responders as pawns to get themselves back into office. The only time anyone ever seems to care about paying teachers or police officers an adequate salary is during an election year. Otherwise they threaten old people with loss of health insurance coverage and terrify college kids with loss of scholarships unless they get more tax dollars with which they can continue spending lavishly on pet programs.
It's no wonder I've lost my taste for political blogging.
I don't know who is running against Edwards yet, but I'll be looking their way and listening to what they have to say about curriculum in our public schools.
They can keep their bribe money; I just want my classroom back.
Louisiana's Future First Lady Donna Edwards has her Husband's Ear on Education Issues (NOLA, January 5, 2016)
Louisiana House Approves Compromise Sales Tax (NOLA, June 22, 2018)
With Cuts Near, Edwards Says Time for Solutions is Now (U.S. News, June 18, 2018)
What is a Scripted Curriculum and How Flexible is it? (SIGIS, May 30, 2018)
The Effects of Student-Teacher Relationships: Social and Academic Outcomes of Low-Income Middle and High School Students (Opus; NYU, 2013)
Meet John White (La DOE)
Teacher Slams Scripted Common Core Lessons that Must be Taught Word for Word (Washington Post, November 30, 2013)