Louisiana is the state most dedicated to wiping out public education and the teaching profession, under the leadership of Governor Bobby Jindal and state commissioner John White. Jindal and White are doing whatever they can to privatize public education with vouchers, charters, and a program to outsource as much as possible of the funding dedicated in the state constitution to the maintenance of public education.
As I have learned from many friends in that state, the governor does not like dissent. When people disagree with his policies, they risk losing their job. In conversations, I have been told again and again, “Don’t mention my name. Please.”
No matter how authoritarian or dictatorial the government may be, there are always a few brave souls who feel compelled to speak up. Some are bloggers. Some are researchers. Some are both. They are smart, they are strong, they are courageous. They can’t tolerate lies, spin, and meanness. They believe the government has an obligation to support the general well-being of the people, not to serve the corporations that fund political campaigns.
And so in this post, I want to salute the bloggers and researchers who have kept alive free speech and free inquiry and the public’s right to know what is happening in their state.
I add their names to the honor roll as champions of American public education.
In no particular order, they are:
Mike Deshotels, who blogs at Louisiana Educator. He has formed a group called Defenders of Public Education.
Research on Reforms, which has been trying to bring evidence to bear on the many false claims about a Louisiana or New Orleans “miracle.” In particular, I applaud the work of Barbara Ferguson, Charles Hatfield, and Raynard Sanders, who have maintained high standards of research in their work.
Lance Hill, who is a tireless advocate for social justice and the children and teachers of New Orleans. Lance brought me to New Orleans in 2010 to speak at Dillard University, where I met many brave researchers, parents, and teachers.
Educators for All, a group of researchers and parents who remain anonymous, but have used public information to exposé public lies about the schools.
Crazy Crawfish, a blogger who uses wit and research to exposé the manipulation of data by the State Education Department.
Mercedes Schneider, a <;;a href="http://“>;;blogger who is fearless in skewering the powerful. She has a Ph.D. In statistics but chooses to teach high school in her native state.
Tom Aswell at Louisiana Voice, a blogger who writes about “graft, lies, and politics: a monument to corruption,” in Louisiana and never runs out of material. He is an invaluable resource as Jindal finds ingenious ways to sell off or give away public assets to powerful corporations. When Tom turns to education, he sees right through Jindal’s smoke and mirrors, the same raid on the public treasury.
I feel honored to have met these brave men and women and i am privileged to post their work here. When the day comes that people of the state see how they have been hoodwinked by their elected officials, they will owe a debt of gratitude to those I honor now. And when that day arrives, no one will be fearful of speaking out and using their own names.