Friday, November 18, 2011

You're not paranoid - they really are coming to get you

Teachers, school employees, parents and supporters of public education have a lot to worry about. Not to sound paranoid, but they really are coming to get us.

In today's Advocate, reporter Will Sentell has a story about the speech that Lane Grigsby gave to Volunteers in Public Schools yesterday. Grigsby is the moneybag tycoon behind the Alliance for Better Classrooms. That's the group that poured tons of money into BESE and legislative races, demanding in return a pledge to oppose teacher tenure.

Grigsby's group is working closely with the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana and others to take the "public" out of public education. As the article puts it, "ABC favors a wide range of steps in the name of school choice, including tax credits and major changes in how public schools are funded."

Grigsby's isn't the only deep-pocketed, corporate-aligned organization to paint a target on the backs of public educators, however. On December 12, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy will hold its "policy orientation" for the Louisiana legislature.

Featured speakers at the conference will be Sen. David Vitter and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who says he'd like to shrink government small enough to drown it in a bathtub.

Panelists on the agenda include a laundry list of right-wing activists and legislators who are pushing a radical "reform" agenda aimed at privatizing, voucherizing and charterizing our schools.

The upshot of it all is this: Louisiana is now squarely in the middle of a national fight over public policy, with an emphasis on public education. After Saturday's general election, it promises to be a long and perhaps bloody four years.

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