Louisiana teachers hope to recall Jindal

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Robby Soave Reporter
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Foes of school choice and other conservative education reforms have lined up to recall Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. But unlike the intense campaign in Wisconsin, no one expects this effort to even qualify for the ballot.

“They really have no chance of actually getting enough signatures,” said Kevin Mooney, an investigative reporter at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. “It’s many steps removed from a Scott Walker-type thing.”

The Louisiana legislature approved a number of reforms to the state education system last April, including school choice and merit-based pay for teachers. This prompted two teachers, Angie Bonvillain and Brenda Romero, to initiate recall efforts against Jindal and key lawmakers who backed his reforms. But widespread support for Jindal — who was re-elected in 2011 with 66 percent of the vote — has given the pair an uphill battle.

The petition to recall Jindal needs 1 million signatures by September 1 in order to qualify for the November ballot. Neither Bonvillain nor Romero responded to requests for comment on whether they expected to get enough signatures in time. But Joy Pullmann, managing editor of School Reform News, doesn’t think Jindal is going anywhere.

“The guy won re-election less than a year ago straight from the primaries with two-thirds the popular vote,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Recall schmeecall.”

Pullmann enthusiastically supports Jindal’s reforms.

“Jindal’s reforms are the most comprehensive, liberty-based education policies in the nation,” she said. “Local principals and school boards now actually have the power to run their own schools. Teachers have to, you know, actually be good at their jobs and stay good to keep them.”

If the recall effort fails, teachers unions have a backup plan: litigation. The Louisiana Association of Educators maintains that the reforms are unconstitutional. The union sent letters to Louisiana private schools last month asking them not to accept voucher funds from the state.

According to an LAE press release, the letter was “in no way an attempt at intimidation.”

LAE President Joyce Haynes further clarified that the purpose of the letter was to protect private schools from having to pay back the funds if the courts strike down the voucher program.

“The letter was our way of ensuring that Louisiana students don’t have to pay for the unconstitutional maneuvers made by Governor Jindal and [Louisiana state] Superintendent White,” she said.

LAE spokesperson Ashley Davis confirmed that in the weeks since the letter was sent, two schools responded. She declined to give the names of those schools, citing legal concerns.

“One school agreed not to accept funds under the program until there was a final and definitive decision on its constitutionality,” she wrote in an e-mail to The DC News Foundation. “We are working with the other school to hold the funds in escrow pending the court’s determination of the constitutionality of the program.”

Still, Mooney predicts the various efforts against Jindal’s reforms will fail — and that school choice in Louisiana has a promising future.

“It’s only going to grow and expand over time,” he said.


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