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February 14, 2011
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Passing a set of historic reform bills last week, the Louisiana legislature handed Gov. Bobby Jindal and his new education chief, John White, the keys to reform city. By a healthy majority in both houses, it passed legislation, writes Bill Barrow of the Times-Picayune, which will
The Lousiana legislature passed a set of historic reform bills last week.
Photo by Jim Bowen.
It was anything but a cakewalk for the Jindal reform package, as teachers descended on the Capitol to fight the bills and Democrats charged the second-term Republican governor with strong-arm tactics reminiscent of former political tough guys Huey Long and Edwin Edwards. “I make no apologies for having a sense of urgency,” said Jindal. “I was elected to help lead our state. I was not elected just to hold an office."
Even Diane Ravitch made a trip to Louisiana to cheer-lead the anti-reform troops. As she recounts on her Bridging Differences blog, headlined “Bobby Jindal v. Public Education,” the Louisiana governor is…
Thankfully, an increasing number of parents and voters are not fooled by the rhetoric. And, tellingly, Ravitch leaves off the list of bad guy governors Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, who has proven himself a champion of education reform. Though there have been many fits-and-starts in the reform movement over the last decade, despite Ravitch’s attempt to portray it as a right-wing conspiracy, one of the more noticeable themes has been that movement’s bipartisanship. Love it or hate it, No Child Left Behind was a bold cross-the-aisle reform hug and there has been a long line of Democratic education reformers, from Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson and Chicago mayor Richard Daley, to Democrats for Education Reform to Chris Cerf, the New Jersey education chief who worked in the Clinton administration, to President Obama and Arne Duncan. Adding Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the list and, as Lyndsey Layton reported last month in the Washington Post, you have "several Democratic mayors in cities across the country—Chicago, Cleveland, Newark and Boston, among them—who are challenging teachers unions in ways that seemed inconceivable just a decade ago.
There is much to work out on the implementation front in Louisiana (and the AP is reporting many battles to come over vouchers), but Jindal’s new superintendent, a Teach for America veteran who cut his reform teeth under Joel Klein in New York (see my story on White here), is well-prepped for the challenge.
Congratulations to Louisiana.