HITHER AND YON: John Bel Edwards Might Consider Seeking Out Miracle Max For His Education Agenda

What’s going on at Louisiana’s state capitol in this legislative session proves the old adage of representative government; namely, that it’s usually a lot more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones. Our Republican legislators are doing just that on the education issue, and God bless them for it.

In the meantime, over the weekend the Advocate had a story begging the suggestion that Louisiana’s governor look to a character from Princess Bride to solve his problems. It said John Bel Edwards’ agenda to squash school choice in Louisiana was “mostly dead.”

“Mostly dead?”

Are we going to look for loose change in the anti-choice bills Edwards has been supporting? Pretty soon, we might.

Edwards wants voucher access limited to students in D and F schools, not the current C, D and F rule, and notes that C schools are not failing.

In addition, he wants to end the ability of charter school applicants to appeal local board rejections if they are in an A or B district.

But Morrish, at the end of a lengthy committee meeting on other topics last month, suddenly announced that he would not be pushing the governor’s legislation to restrict access to vouchers — Senate Bill 361.

Ann Duplessis, president of the pro-voucher Louisiana Federation for Children, said the bill died amid cries from parents who want options beyond traditional public schools.

“What we are seeing is they are voicing their opinions and legislators are listening and they are taking heed,” said Duplessis, a former state senator from New Orleans.

On Edwards’ charter school priority, Morrish twice scaled back the plan in hopes of winning approval in his own committee.

But even limiting the change to A-rated districts, not A and B, failed to gain traction, one week after the committee voted down a similar bill.

Barry Erwin, of CABL, noted that what Edwards was trying to do was a stupid idea. “And in a state like Louisiana that is not doing that well in education, I think they want to keep all the options open,” he said of the legislators who are killing those bills in the House and Senate education committees.

There are still a few anti-choice bills out there which haven’t been killed yet, but none of them have much chance of surviving the House Education Committee that school choice stalwart Nancy Landry chairs. There’s a Senate bill, SB 260, which would remove the ability of a state-chartered school organization to open a charter school without the consent of a local school board; a House version of that legislation already died, and even though SB 260 passed 34-2 in the Senate it’s likely headed for a similar fate in Landry’s committee.

The guess is no changes to the 2012 education reforms, which weakened the tenure rules for public school teachers and made it easier to fire the bad ones, opened up the voucher program to kids across the state stuck in C, D or F-rated public schools and maximized the ability of charter operators to open schools even if the local school boards refused to charter them (the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has the power to approve a charter over the objection of the locals, and has done so on a number of occasions). Jindal might no longer be popular in Louisiana, but that reform package still is.

Edwards, meanwhile, has a political problem he created through his own clumsy incompetence. The governor really needed to leave the charter and voucher issue alone this year and pretend that he and his staff were “studying” the performance of the new players Jindal’s reforms had brought into the arena. He needed to wait a year, find some allegedly unbiased organization to bring a report on charter schools and vouchers which indicated that they didn’t produce any improvement in educational achievement – which would likely be hotly contested, because for the most part studies have shown charter and voucher kids do improve their performance – and then bring a bunch of anti-choice measures as a response to “the facts.”

Had he done that, he could claim he was being judicious and objective, and acting on behalf of the kids. Instead, what he’s doing can rightly be seen as rushing to pay off the teacher unions who funded his campaign. The state’s majority-Republican legislature is having none of it, and rightly so.

It’s just one more example of it being amateur hour at the governor’s mansion. This time next year there will be more interest in who’s going to run against Edwards in 2019 than anything he’s actually doing.

Maybe then he can go to Miracle Max to try to resuscitate his political career.

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Red snapper season will be all of nine days in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and nobody is happy about it.

The word you’ll hear from fishermen is red snapper are absolutely everywhere along the Gulf coast, something that isn’t supposed to be the case given how terribly small the snapper population is.

Nine days in the Gulf is ridiculous, but ridiculous is what you get with almost anything the federal government does.

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Have you heard about The Great Shimmy Shack Racist Joke Kerfuffle? It will make your head hurt.

Apparently, this joke put up on a River Ridge restaurant’s marquee is “offensive.”

“I guess I got some Oriental people who aren’t crazy about this one, so I guess I got to take it down,” he said, stumbling into another term for Asians that fell out of favor decades ago.

“Nowadays, it’s so politically correct you gotta be careful what you say,” he said, lamenting the bygone days of jokes from comedians like Henny Youngman and Rodney Dangerfield.

“I guess I’ve gotta live with it.”

Bollag, who isn’t Asian, isn’t buying the just-a-joke response, noting that one can joke that “tooth hurty” is a good time to go to a dentist without dragging racial stereotypes into it.

Maybe Jimmy Collings, the restaurant’s proprietor, ought to replace that joke with a statement saying “No Chinamen were harmed during the production of this message.”

Political correctness is the worst. The worst.

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Finally, Today’s Last Thing. As you might have heard, the rain this weekend made Jazz Fest in New Orleans more or less a washout, which wasn’t great. But on Friday, there was music – and the great Southern rock band My Morning Jacket was on the main stage amid the precipitation belting out a thoroughly appropriate classic.

Here’s Purple Rain, amid the deluge.

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