Last night a bit of my soul left my body. My dear friend and legislative partner, Steve Carter, departed this world.
Social media is full of platitudes and compliments for Steve, but I felt that I must divulge something of the Steve Carter that I called friend.
Steve and I always agreed that the main reason Louisiana was such a poor state was because we as a people, while giving lip service to education, just abdicated our responsibility to future generations to what we called the education status quo, the education establishment. Steve and I never once thought that these were bad people or were people who did not sincerely want to do what they conceived of as being a good job. But based on glaring evidence, what had been done and what appeared to be the plan going forward was a colossal failure. Therefore, we agreed to undertake what was the most wide-ranging education reform in Louisiana history.
What the people on social media have missed, but what I came to know about Steve was that he had a backbone of titanium and that he was at his best when a team player. The education reform plan was met by waves of attacks by the very same education status quo that should, in the first place, have led the charge for reform. Not once did Steve buckle, he knew that what he was doing was right for the children of Louisiana and so he stood up to the anger of those he challenged. When the governor flip-flopped and attacked our defense of high standards, Steve was right there. Never once did he flinch even as the governor demanded that he back down from the defense of what he believed in. That is what I mean about a backbone of titanium, that was the Steve few knew, but I did.
To overcome entrenched special interests, we could not succeed in isolation. So, he and I along with many allies banded together into a strong partnership. It was a team effort, and in that fashion, I saw Steve at his best. So many politicians would have taken advantage of the situation to shine the media spotlight on themselves, but not Steve. His passion was to do what was best for the children, and he knew that only by partnering with likeminded collaborators could that be accomplished. Through give and take we hammered out a victory. But we never could have succeeded without his innate skills at working with people and being able to exhibit leadership. All wrapped up in one bow, that was the Steve I knew.
The great losers in the passing of Steve Carter are the children of Louisiana, children that he never met but that he loved unabashedly. Never has there been a humbler and stronger champion of their cause against an adversary so well entrenched.
In the end his epitaph will be that he cared, and he stood strong in the face of opposition from which so many others would have fled.