There’s been a huge push by the GOP for school vouchers over the last decade or so, and few places have had that agenda on the front burner more so than my current state, Louisiana. Leading this charge as part of his presumed White House bid in 2016, Gov. (“Stop Being the Party of Stupid”) Bobby Jindal has garnered a lot of love from the religious right for this effort.
In the last couple of days, the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down his school vouchers program as being in violation of the state’s Constitution.
Now, this is Louisiana we’re talking about. As much as I like a lot of the things about this place, there’s a few things that really grind my gears even more so than the improper use of the French language and the incessant need to fry and coat seemingly every dish with cayenne pepper.
Cajun country, that hot ladle of the southern part of the state that spans approximately 50 miles on either side of I-10, is predominately Catholic. I have family members here who are invested in that religion, and hey, that’s their right.
For many years, people have sent their kids to either private schools or public schools here and there wasn’t much fuss about it. After all, people should have the right to send kids to a school of their choice, but that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about allowing kids to go to better schools, this is about allowing a private entity that already hides behind a religious exemption from taxes to receive taxpayer money, and indoctrinate children even further.
Their argument is that private schools can better educate kids, and at a lower cost. If that’s all it was, I’d be all for it. Yet, over and over again, we’ve found that the private sector does not deliver things more cheaply when they’re doing it on our taxpayer dollar. Whether it is replacing soldiers with contractors, or public schools with religious ones, it’s just another scheme to funnel our money into their pockets.
I’m going to use our infrastructure here as an example. Within our parishes, a lot of the maintenance of back roads is awarded to private contractors who are often part of the “good ol’ boys club.” Instead of having the DOT properly put down asphalt that’ll last 5 years or more, they hire one of their friends to do it. The inevitable sub-par job ensures that the resulting potholes and crumbling road shoulders will require constant maintenance, and further money paid out to the same person.
Every time you turn around, you’ll have some politician with a flag on their lapel and another flag fluttering on a screen behind them talking about how government is broken. Almost inevitably, they have a solution, and you can bet that it’s sending another government function to the private sector.
It’s a clever strategy. Undermine an already struggling school system in the name of reform, create a hostile environment that targets teacher’s unions, force them to be accountable for results they cannot completely control and get them to quit en masse. That’s the exact situation we’ve been dealing with here. Bobby Jindal has been on a relentless attack against the public school system since the first day he was elected Governor of Louisiana and there’s a lot of people who stand to reap the benefits of his “reforms.”
I think we’re the most blatant example here, but it’s going on all over the country. Whether it is education, roads or even our prisons, the private sectors are making a power play for our tax dollars. It’s up to us as voters to make sure they don’t succeed.
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