Sunday, August 16, 2015

Geaux Teacher!: The Perils of using Disaster as a Catalyst for Change in Louisiana - Part 1

Geaux Teacher!: The Perils of using Disaster as a Catalyst for Change in Louisiana - Part 1:

The Perils of using Disaster as a Catalyst for Change in Louisiana - Part 1

Some very good editorials are being published as we approach the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.  I am going to re-post several of those that particularly strike a nerve with me because they cut through the rhetoric and defy political correctness.  They also provide context to the rape of our public school system in Louisiana which began with the takeover of the New Orleans Public Schools.

 An Announcement from Lt. General Russel Honore'
(U.S. Army Retired)
NEW ORLEANS (July1, 2015) - My fellow citizens of Louisiana, I come to you today as a humble son of this great state and servant of this great nation. I was fortunate enough to spend 37 years in the United States military, retiring in 2008 from the U.S. Army after my life's work as a soldier. Today I come to you with a heavy heart and request your understanding At the urging of many of my fellow citizens, I've spent the last few months thinking about running for governor of the State of Louisiana. I've been humbled by the support of so many, and it has laid heavy on my mind after observing the 2015 Louisiana legislature, which made it abundantly clear that we desperately need better political leadership in Louisiana.

As we look at the state of our State and its current affairs, I recall the stories the old folks used to tell on the front porch of our farmhouse. My family were subsistence farmers and they would gather on rainy days, talking about the promises of President Roosevelt and Governor Huey Long. Times were hard and the crops were thin. That conversation should have changed a long time ago. It has not. Times are still hard and the challenges -- maybe you could say disasters -- we have in Louisiana today are very much like they were in my youth.

Do a gut check: are we happy with the government we have? With who represents us? Think: Who has a record of working for us, and who promised to but actually went to work for their biggest donors? We must reshape our politics and reorder our priorities. We must get comfortable with speaking about the unspeakable, about how is it that we can be the nation's third largest energy producer and second poorest state.

We must demand that our politicians put a priority on working for citizens, not their donors. Yes, I know, money has always influenced American politics - so much and for so long we're not even very angry about it anymore. But if someone robbed your house, you would be angry. I'm telling you, big donors are robbing your house. For instance, donors were behind a law that allows hundreds of manufacturing facilities to enjoy a 5-year tax exemption, and then apply for a 5-year renewal, courtesy of our Legislature. Because of these tax exemptions, local governments are denied the tax revenue they need to provide essential services, including schools, police and fire, parks, roads and libraries, thereby increasing the tax burden on our working families. If that sounds too crazy to be true, please see the GreenARMY scorecard to learn how your legislator voted on that are important to you and your family.. Most of our professional political class put industry profits and their own over the safety of our citizens. That's you and your family I'm talking about.

The tax code they've shaped has looted our state. That's your money and your home. Your politicians argue and sign petitions and accuse the federal government of overreaching for trying to protect our air from being poisoned by coal plants, yet Louisiana can provide all the cheap natural gas our state needs. While we are champions of fossil fuels, we must understand that there is an expiration date on the Louisiana fossil fuel supply. Still, the Legislature and the Public Service Commission have all but gutted the solar industry in Louisiana -- that means fewer new companies and fewer jobs -- and last year our Governor signed a retroactive law that prevents our citizens from holding companies accountable for the destruction of our 
Geaux Teacher!: The Perils of using Disaster as a Catalyst for Change in Louisiana - Part 1:

Disaster as a Catalyst for Change - Part Two

Dr. Beverly Wright produced this Letter to the Editor weighing in on the so-called Plan for the Future of New Orleans that was hatched by the powers that be, most certainly prior to the storm.  A Plan, like the plan to take over the New Orleans Public Schools, with the mark of Disaster Capitalism prominently displayed.

Much righteous indignation has been voiced over commentary after the storm that Katrina was a blessing in disguise, but where is overwhelming indignation that Katrina was a catalyst for some of the changes NOT welcomed by many of the City's disenfranchised? 

The Color Change:  White Washing a City
It Started with those Green Dots

Commentary by Dr. Beverly Wright, PhD
Dr. Beverly Wright
Dr. Beverly Wright
Let's just be "real" about how Black people feel their quality of life has, or is changing, ten years after Katrina. I can tell you this; Black folks know that things are changing, but at their core, they do not believe these changes will benefit them. They basically see a "New" New Orleans that is whiter and richer, and they see this happening at their expense. They can identify a number of actions taken by local and state government that have dramatically affected their lives. These include: (1) the Plan for the Future or the infamous "green dot map"; (2) the takeover of the New Orleans Public Schools by the state forming the Recovery School District; (3) the hostile takeover of public schools by charter networks; (4) the firing of all New Orleans public school teachers and personnel; (5) the suspension of the federal Davis-Bacon Act; and (6) the awarding of billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to a handful of politically connected nationally-based contractors. In this blog, I will speak to one of them, the Plan for the Future.

In order to understand the real implications and the devastating results of these actions, we have to begin at the beginning. And for most African American and Vietnamese New Orleanians, it starts with 

Disaster as a Catalyst for Change - Part Two

How Disaster Changed the N.O. Education Landscape - Part III

Little did the rest of Louisiana know (and some still don't get it) how the "turnaround" of the New Orleans Public School System was only a prelude to the corporate reform agenda that has now infiltrated local school districts statewide.  Why should we care what happens in the city that care (literally) forgot?  When local democratic control is effectively removed from your local district you may begin to understand.  Don't let this happen on your watch!

A Perfect Storm Part 1: 17 Days in November

A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools is the first in a series of short videos, that reveals the real story behind the creation of the nation’s first all charter school district. These videos are made possible with the support of  The Schott Foundation and The New Orleans Education Equity Roundtable. They are produced in partnership with Bayou and Me Productions.
For the past seven years, state education officials and corporate school reformers have touted the dramatic turnaround of New Orleans public schools. National media outlets have published numerous articles and TV news stories of the miracle in New Orleans citing unprecedented academic achievement where parents finally had School Choice.
This first Perfect Storm video focuses on the illegal takeover and the academic failure of the Recovery School District. The film features interviews with leaders in the New Orleans education community who were faced with the daunting task of reopening schools immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

How Disaster Changed the N.O. Education Landscape - Part III