Last week, our own Tom Bonnette posted an expose’ of sorts on the Louisiana Budget Project, an outgrowth of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations which has taken to shellacking Gov. Bobby Jindal’s efforts at reforming state government on a number of fronts.
Tom researched LBP and found that its funding indicates anything but the non-partisan, centrist and objective outfit it purports to be.
Louisiana Budget Project was created by Flournoy in 2006 through the Washington DC-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), which bills itself as “one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals.”
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities was created by leftist legal scholar John T. Kramer and Democratic Party fund-raiser Sol Price and has been financed by progressive sugar-daddy George Soros to the tune of over $3.7 million over the last few years.
Jared Bernstein, CBPP Senior Fellow specializing in Federal Fiscal Policy, has worked for the Soros funded Economic Policy Institute as well as the Obama Administration as Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.
And a bit more…
Louisiana Budget Project is financed through Soros’ Open Society Institute, as is Media Matters For America, a progressive propaganda group which pretends to be a media watch-dog organization.
Everyone with an ounce of sense knew what they were all about along time ago, but any doubt was put to rest whenThe Daily Caller exposed how the group was working directly with the Obama Administration to destroy media outlets the president doesn’t like—namely, Fox News.
Louisiana Budget Project gets money from other places besides the Open Society Institute. Additional financiers are the Pubic Welfare Foundation, Anne E. Casey Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
The Public Welfare Foundation, an organization with ties to the Soros-funded Tides Foundation and Tides Center finances a host of progressive groups. Some notables are the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Greenpeace International and Planned Parenthood.
The Anne E. Casey Foundations grantees also include the Tides Foundation, ACORN, Planned Parenthood—along with hundreds of other left-wing outfits.
Louisiana Budget Project funder W.K. Kellogg Foundation is also a big contributor that helps finance a host of progressive groups, mostly over healthcare issues. The foundation held a conference in 2005 to bring leftist activist together to “merge concerns about physical health status with social justice.” at “global, national, state and local levels.” Initiatives included smoking bans and outlawing vending machines at schools.
It’s almost time for your test, but let’s review what we have learned so far:
Louisiana Budget Project was founded by a former Democratic legislator whom heads a progressive think-tank, Louisiana Progress, whose stated goal is to influence public opinion toward progressive policy.
Louisiana Budget Project was created through a Soros-funded network, with strong ties to the Obama Administration, that was set up to spread progressive propaganda nationwide while pretending to be doing something else—much like Media Matters.
Those are strong charges. Incendiary, even.
But when Jan Moller, the former Times-Picayune capitol correspondent who heads the Louisiana Budget Project, penned a guest column at The Political Desk in response, he didn’t challenge a word of them. Not a word.
In fact, Moller openly embraced the left-wing funding sources for his operation.
For the record, we are proud of our funders, who support our mission of providing research and analysis on state budget issues and their effect on poor and moderate-income residents. We list our supporters prominently on our website, and thank them publicly every chance we get.
The reader can judge for himself or herself whether any objective truth can be found coming from a Soros-funded propaganda outfit. For our purposes, it’s fairly obvious the answer is no. In fact, it would appear to us based on the record of Soros-funded propaganda outfits like Media Matters and ThinkProgress, who feed at the same trough the Louisiana Budget Project derives its sustenance from, such a suggestion would be laughable.
Moller, who should get credit for his comic stylings, makes that suggestion anyway.
With the stroke of President George H.W. Bush’s pen, supermarket shoppers across the country were suddenly entitled to know how many calories, carbs and grams of sugar were in their morning cereal. Freedom-loving Americans could still start their day with a bowl of Fruit Loops or a Pop-Tart, but it was a more informed choice.
(Today, such a bill would no doubt get attacked as a socialist, free-market-destroying Big Government conspiracy).
It was in this spirit of disclosure and accountability that the Louisiana Budget Project released a paper last month that called for testing and accountability requirements to be included in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to expand the availability of private-school vouchers.
For anyone who hasn’t heard, the governor is proposing a dramatic expansion of the voucher program that was launched in 2008, which currently allows 1,849 low-income students in New Orleans to attend private schools at the state’s expense. The governor wants to take the program statewide, and cover students from families below 250 percent of the poverty line who attend a public school graded “C”, “D” or “F” under the state’s new letter-grade system.
An estimated 380,000 students – 54 percent of the public school population – would be eligible for a voucher under the new plan.
Our suggestion is a simple one, which we borrowed from a school voucher plan recently approved in Indiana: Any private school that accepts vouchers should be required to give standardized tests to all its students, and be graded on the same A-F scale that applies to public schools. That way, parents could make a truly informed choice when weighing whether to send a child to a public or private school.
That’s from the very beginning of Moller’s piece – he opens with a sarcastic attack on those of us who think the market is perfectly capable of providing transparency, and then applies it to his organization’s demand that parents of kids in failing schools be denied the freedom to get out from under the very state mandates which have resulted in Louisiana placing 49th in educational outcomes.
For the record, the requirement of standardized tests for private schools accepting vouchers was adopted in Indiana based on a demand from the teachers’ unions, which are stronger there than they are in Louisiana. It’s a statement of political reality rather than smart public policy.
Going back to Moller’s analogy of dietary information on cereal boxes, he assumes that the government demanding not only the information required on a cereal box (as though parents who feed their kids Count Chocula or Lucky Charms are really that interested in the nutritional value of their breakfast cereal) but how that information is laid out, where on the box it appears and in what font it should be printed is necessary and proper. Because requiring private schools, which have made themselves an option more attractive to parents than the government institutions those parents would assumedly be fleeing from, to come under the same dictates is very much akin to that kind of control.
After all, consumers looking for information on products like breakfast cereal have easy access to independent testing services like Consumer Reports. And media organizations like Moller’s former employer the Times-Picayune are more than capable of providing information on school quality without the government sticking its nose under the tent.
The educational establishment and its allies in the Louisiana Democrat Party have been pushing the requirement that private schools taking state voucher money be tested just as public schools are tested. What they don’t say is that nobody is inviting private schools to help design the tests, meaning that the myriad educational approaches which can be found in private schools – rather than the “teaching to the test” which the teachers’ unions constantly complain destroys their product in the first place – could prejudice the results.
The beauty of private schools is that the accountability inherent in voluntary attendance from the parents’ choices to place their children in them makes them subject to market acceptance anyway. Does this mean all private schools are better than public schools? Of course not. There are bad private schools just like there are bad breakfast cereals. Except nobody buys bad breakfast cereals and they shortly go out of business, and that’s generally true of private schools as well.
It’s not true of bad public schools, however, and we’re not the only people who look at the tests Moller would require as a thinly-veiled attempt to throw roadblocks in the way of school choice.
He doesn’t address this fact, which is the crux of the issue. Instead he whines, accusing his critics of name-calling while doing precisely that…
For this the Louisiana Budget Project was labeled an “enemy of change” by the publisher of the Baton Rouge Business Report (who doubles as the governor’s campaign treasurer) and called much worse names by a writer for a far right-wing blog.
Curiously, the criticism from Business Report’s Rolfe McCollister came just four paragraphs before he extolled the Indiana voucher plan that we cited as a model in our report.
Rather than debate the merits of accountability, our critics focused on attacking our organization’s funding. This is a smoke-screen, erected by those who cannot or will not defend a voucher plan that gives private schools a taxpayer-financed blank check.
We’re a “far right-wing blog,” according to Moller, who seems oblivious to the fact that smear tactics like he uses sure are reminiscent of his fellow recipients of Soros largesse Media Matters and Think Progress, but we’ll let that go for now. But what we find amazing and instructive is Moller’s characterization of a voucher program which would actually save the state money on a per-student basis (and for that fact Moller’s friends in the educational establishment say it will destroy public education in Louisiana) and pay private schools only when parents make a consumer decision to patronize those schools, a “taxpayer-financed blank check.”
Has Moller bothered to notice that East Baton Rouge Parish spends $12,000 per student per year on public schools? Has he noticed the complete lack of achievement those schools, in which 65 of 76 score at C or below and 54 at D or below, have produced with that robust funding level? And he somehow believes that vouchers constitute a blank check?
The defense of Jindal’s voucher program is very simple, and we’re more than happy to make it. Simply put, parents are better capable of picking a good school for their kids than penny-ante politicians at the local school board, nosy tyrant federal judges or self-serving education bureaucrats. None of those three classes of people ultimately care about the best interests of schoolchildren; they care about the adults in the system. Kids don’t vote, so the school board is more than happy to respond to things like desegregation orders by busing public school pupils all over town (and forcing parents and kids to go through the horror of getting up at 5:30 every morning in order to waste an hour on a school bus). And kids don’t sue, so lawyers and judges are free to play tug-of-war with every issue in public schools that the market would resolve without rancor – whether it be prayer, discipline, sex education or whatever else.
Given all that, what school to go to ought to be up to parents and kids and not educrats. Why? Because those individual choices will be driven by factors educrats either don’t care about or don’t have enough information for. That’s what’s known as the market, and we know from experience that it works a lot better than the command economy model which governs our public schools.
So state-required testing is neither necessary nor warranted. It’s up to the schools which want to attract kids to provide information on their quality, and it’s up to the parents, who through vouchers are made the state’s agent of their own children’s education, to decide for themselves what school to attend. Forcing private schools to submit to state testing is a method for denying parents options, which is the entire purpose of the voucher program.
Moller refuses to even recognize this fact. Instead, he touts the rigor of Louisiana’s public-school accountability programs, which have won awards at the same time educational quality has hardly budged the needle despite vast increases in spending.
He talks about transparency. But his is a fairly transparent defense of the educational status quo. Louisiana needs better than that, and Louisiana needs better than “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” childishness from left-wing propagandists looking to stand in the way of transformative education reform.