Hissy Fits and Imbalance

Resource mobilization is a major sociological theory in the study of social movements which emerged in the 1970s. It stresses the ability of a movement’s members to 1) acquire resources and to 2) mobilize people towards accomplishing the movement’s goals.

Stephen Waguespack
Stephen Waguespack

In his tirade that is reminiscent of Pee Wee Herman’s, “I know you are but what am I?,” Stephen Waguespack calls out the members of the Louisiana Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (LAROS) for doing all of the things that he, as the former governor’s chief of staff, and his current organization, LABI, have engaged in for years. It is something that we have seen in Louisiana since 2010, except it was people with resources mobilizing people to accomplish a goal. In his blog, The LAROS Papers, Peter Cook professes to have uncovered a secret underground conspiracy to derail the education reform efforts in Louisiana. Well, Cook is partly correct. It isn’t a secret.

Since 2011, Louisiana’s public education system has been under fire and suffered serious destructive blows from former governor, Bobby Jindal’s education reform efforts. Even as he is long gone, those efforts are perpetuated by a small number of non-profit organizations. These organizations include Stand For Children, American Federation for Children, Council for A Better Louisiana, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, and yes…Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana; also known as A+PEL. That’s right. The very organization that takes pride in not being a union, claims its mission is to elevate the teaching profession and collects dues from thousands of unsuspecting members is deep in collusion with these organizations that have secretly conspired to destroy public education. You can read more about that here and here.

The presence of a governor who supports public education is a threat to their existence. It has them on the defensive, and their hissy fits are comical.

What is the difference here? I’m not really understanding how a national movement to stop the destruction of public education and regain control of it is any different than the secret underground movement that these organizations have engaged in for years. Oh, wait! There is a difference. This is a movement involving educators, parents, community members, etc. who are actually contributors to the system they seek to save. Those other guys are puppets for corporations and special interest groups. They enjoy financial supports from out of state billionaires who are so interested in changing the landscape of Louisiana education that they spent in excess of $5,000,000 to stack the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in their favor, and try year after year to destroy the unions so that they can continue their destruction. Let’s talk about stacking.

Since the publishing of Cook’s “discovery,” several members of the movement to destroy public education have made public outcries about the secrecy, the imbalance of the Governor’s ESSA Advisory Council and a supposed conflict of interest for members of the governor’s council who also belong to LAROS. I can only assume that Cook discovered this secret club because their fear of the governor’s advisory council prompted him to submit an FOIA request for emails.

The previous governor, Bobby Jindal, was a catalyst to the education reform movement. Not only did he collude with these reform organizations, they conspired to prevent educators from fighting against them by locking them out of the State Capital. They cannot justify any claim of imbalance. Comparing council members’ participation in LAROS to the unfortunate appointment of a tax evader to a paid appointment to the tax commission is juvenile. The advisory council’s role is just that…advisory. Their sole purpose is to review the ESSA law and make recommendations to the governor, and then he will decide his own course of action. Where was the outcry of imbalance when the academic “standards review committee” was stacked with more than 80% supporters of Common Core and education reform? Where is the outcry when teachers are chastised for taking time off to defend themselves, and then the  organizations intended to represent them are categorized as union thugs?

These organizations use the word “children” in their names to imply that children are their focus. They demonize public school educators and they beat down the unions that represent them. They call them overpriced lobbyist. Let’s talk about overprice lobbyist who work for “non-profit” organizations.

The following information comes directly from each organization’s Form 990 filed with the IRS in 2014 and 2015.

Louisiana Association of Business and Industry
President, Stephen Waguespack   ­$392,347
V.P of Education, Brigitte Nieland­   $108,265

Council for A Better Louisiana
Executive Director, Barry Erwin­   $109,583
Stephanie Desselle,   $130,000

Stand For Children
Executive Director, Rayne Martin, $142,000

These are the very organizations that have exhibited outrage that the National Education Association would provide assistance to fund a part-time salary for a parent who works tirelessly to organize communities and parents to regain control of their public schools.

With that said, I would urge you to contact LAROS and offer your support. This is a grassroots movement to stop the attempts at stripping us of the opportunity to choose how our tax dollar are spent in the education of our children. Visit the LAROS FaceBook Page. Like it and Share it! You can also email laroschools@gmail.com to express your desire to be a part of the movement. Do your part. Let’s reclaim our schools.

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