APPEL: Some Good Education News That Isn’t Helpful To John Bel Edwards

Just two weeks before an election that may mark the end of failed leadership that has resulted in abysmal results, and the news couldn’t be worse for John Bel Edwards. Yesterday the Superintendent of Education released the results of the Nation’s Report card, the NAEP tests. This is national overview of how well our students are learning; more important, unlike so much of Louisiana’s testing, it is wholly non-political.

And the results, Louisiana students were number one in the nation in improvement in 8th grade Math skills. This is incredibly significant because it demonstrates that the reforms that were proposed by Bobby Jindal, the same reforms that John Bel Edwards led the fight against in the legislature and as governor has for four years tried to undermine are working splendidly.

But why would a governor who uses as his motto “People over Politics” be so against reforms that are helping especially poor and minority kids in our state? One word, politics. Remember that he has been the champion of the unions and the unions hate the reforms. They hate them because unions are about grownups, not kids.

On the other hand for twelve years Eddie Rispone has freely put his time, his passion, and his money behind three concepts; accountability, high standards, and parental choice. He didn’t need to do that, he could have stayed on the sidelines and watched as we remained stuck in last place in all measures of success. But he is a man of faith and honor, sitting on the sidelines watching as professional politicians like Edwards play with the fate of our people is not something in his DNA.

So the news for a governor seeking re-election on a phony premise is terrible. Everything that his opponent stands for is working and everything that he stands against are now seen as a failed effort to protect unions over the children of Louisiana. People over Politics, what a farce. These results make it clear that he, like so many governors before him, places politics above all else. And we all suffer.

Along with teachers, there are dozens of legislators, BESE members, and citizens like Eddie Rispone that deserve the credit for this great news. But if we want to build on this success and to use it as a stepping stone to a bright future for our state, we must be very wary of the people we put in positions of leadership.

There is no doubt that if re-elected Edwards will continue his war on reforms and kids will suffer. Just as assuredly, if Rispone is elected the welfare of children, especially their education, will be elevated to place of importance we have never seen.

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