John Bel Edwards has not Taken Office and Already his Team has Made Some Major Missteps

I am not happy.

I’m actually quite pissed off and had to take extra blood pressure medication today to prevent my head from exploding off my shoulders.  I think I am like a lot of people that supported John Bel Edwards for Governor for his stands on education, who got the shaft after the election.

Is John Bel making all the decisions on education committees and BESE picks?

Probably not.

Whomever is doing it however is doing a piss poor job.

I contacted Edward’s Facebook page, Onward Louisiana site, and a number of close contacts to inquire about his education agenda and to offer my help or input.  I was ignored in some cases, and told to wait until after he takes office before brining my concerns or ideas so John Bel could tackle the budget crisis and his top priority, Medicare expansion.  Doing so has proved to be a disastrous mistake on my part, compounded by horrible decisions by his education team.

While I was waiting numerous education reformers secured a seat at the various tables and parents and regular teachers who fought so hard and for so long were left walled out and cut off.  Leslie Jacobs, Queen Reformer of Louisiana and Architect of the Recovery School Disaster was given a seat on a 53 member committee that included many union reps, and other reformers, but none of the folks that crossed party lines to vote for John Bel and for education.  The list did include these folks however:

  • Ronnie Briggs Board Chairman of The Good Shepherd School (“School Choice Champion”)
  • Gwendolyn Hamilton Community Affairs, New Schools for Baton Rouge/CEO EBR Redevelopment Authority (unelected and unaccountable private Charter School Authorizer)
  • Leslie Jacobs Former BESE Member  (Queen of the Recovery School Disaster, wealthy donor for education reformers across the state, owner of misleading pro-referom propaganda organization EducateNow!)
  • Dr. Andre Perry Principal, A.M. Perry Consulting (infamous and outlandish eduction reformer and charter proponent from NOLA –  I think he’ll like that title)

Of course the presidents of the two unions were there.

  • Debbie Meaux President, Louisiana Association of Educators
  • Steve Monaghan LA Federation of Teachers President

And one of the 3 people this panel decided to appoint to BESE on John Bel Edward’s behalf was also on this panel.

  • School Doris Voitier Superintendent of St. Bernard Parish School System


Wow.  I wonder if she voted to appoint herself?  (Well, technically I did that too but I was one of a 400 thousand people or so.)

About half the panel was composed of current or former union reps and members. More than 10% of it consisted of notorious education reformers who had no doubt campaigned and donated hard against John Bel (and plan to shiv him in the shower at some point in the near future).

These are Education Reformers who opposed John Bel and all the FlipBESE candidates and who raised obscene amounts of money from out of state billionaires and have been buying our BESE elections for more than a decade.  They spent close to 10 million dollars with over 90% coming from out of state donors and PACs and won 7 BESE seats.

I’m told Edwards wants to include everyone in his governing. However those folks were already more than fully represented. What I didn’t see was an anti-Common Core activist or activist parent that’s been fighting with me at BESE and the legislature. I didn’t see one of the candidates nominated that won close to 50% of the vote in their districts and even after being out raised/spent between 40 and 100 to one.

Already this administration is making the same mistakes as the last one by wooing the wealthy and ignoring the regular folks who are just trying to be heard and thought John Bel would make that happen.

In my opinion, John Bel owes his win to us, the FlipBESE candidates, as much as anyone else.  We forced these organizations to spend all their time and money on us.  That money would have been used against him and those organizations would have campaigned against him and his unions if they had not been so concerned about the threat we flipBESE candidates posed.  That 10 million would have been about what John Bel spent for the governors race.  I wonder if he could have done as well as a flipBESE candidate if he had the same monetary disadvantage we had.

(For perspective, that would have been more than 1 billion dollars.)

About half the state voted against Common Core and John White, and they have no champion on this panel or among the 3 recent BESE appointees.  the LABI backed candidates actually ran for local control and against Common Core, and some people believed them, not knowing those were complete lies.  Here’s some of the ads one of my opponents ran.

(Most of the ads run by the LABI candidates were identical carbon copies with the same points, music and typeface.  These were corporation sponsored and run campaigns.  If you want to see what I mean check these 2 ads out that even ran back to back on the same channels.

Empower/LABI Engen Commercial

Taylor Generic Empower/LABI commercial

I think a lot of people are going to pissed when they find out they voted against Common Core and thought they elected a candidate that was against it, only to find it was rebranded and actually made worse, as the review committee has reportedly done by the various folks who have resigned from it in protest.

Do you think they are going to blame their BESE candidate (that they probably don’t remember now) or the Governor who ran against Common Core and John White?

Education Reformers have been crowing for well over a month that John Bel cut a deal and John White is safe.  I don’t hear one peep of complaint out of them either.  Meanwhile many of the folks that brought John Bel to the Governor’s Ball are left out in the cold and we are not happy with what we have seen so far.

In case you’re wondering what the story will be when John White stays, Leslie Jacob’s website, Educate Now! is already delivering for mass consumption.

Governor-elect John Bel Edwards has chosen his three appointees to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education: Doris Voitier, superintendent of St. Bernard Parish schools; Thomas Roque, superintendent of the Diocese of Alexandria; and Lurie Thomason, assistant professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Grambling State University. While Governor-elect Edwards may have wanted a new state superintendent, he does not have the votes to replace John White, and his three BESE appointees said in an interview they would be “open” to working with White.

For those who make excuses to say John Bel can’t remove him because he doesn’t have 8 votes, here are my rebuttals and questions:

  • If you can’t replace John White, why on earth would you make that promise after the BESE elections?
  • If you can’t replace John White, why would you appoint three people open to working with him?
  • If you can’t replace John White, why would you let John White’s allies choose who the appointees are!?!?!?!?!

My understanding is the plan all along was to trade those appointments and to take it easy on John White, in exchange for cooperation on other projects like the Budget Crisis and Medicare.

No doubt the budget and Medicare are noble causes, but I’m not a chess piece and neither are my kids.

I’m told I should look to John Bel’s “history” of supporting Public Education and to trust that he will do right by us.

This is what history tells me:

Louisiana Governors, like JBE’s predecessor Bobby Jindal, promise anything to get elected and then once they get in office they are immediately corrupted by power and bound by reality and wall themselves off in their ivory towers and let their minions take the heat.

Oh, I knows my Looziana history alright.

I was asked to give Edwards time to get situated before lobbying him on education issues.  I guess the education reformers that campaigned hard against him didn’t get that memo.  Now John Bel has named 3 permanent appointees (for the next 4 years) to BESE that he cannot revoke, while I was waiting patiently.  He was able to do that before he took office.

Wanna know what I have to say about that?

Total. Bull. Shit.

John Bel, I was told if I wrote a blog about this, you would never ever see it and that I needed to go through the proper channels (like the ones that have already failed me to date).

Let’s see if that’s true or another lie.

It appears to many on the outside that you seem to have taken the side of education reformers, and taken great pains to include them in your Kumbaya moment while also excluding around 50% of the population that hates Common Core and John White and his policies.

We were screwed over by corporations and billionaires from out of state and we looked to you to help make it right.  That’s not what many of us see happening.  I feel my trust has been abused, but to be fair I have not spoken to you and you may not be aware things aren’t being seen as going smoothly outside your circle.

Gimmie a call and let’s rap sometime. . .when you’re not too busy.  My number is 225-892-4410.

Thanks and good luck getting rid of White!  I, and a lot of others, are counting on you.





25 thoughts on “John Bel Edwards has not Taken Office and Already his Team has Made Some Major Missteps

    1. Jason appears to be stating facts. Pro cc, Pro charter, Pro ed reform are all represented…while the concerned parents in the grassroots effort (and their children, all children) are not. I am part of that movement that voted for Edwards and trust me I ONLY voted for him b/c of his apparent lies about getting rid of CC. #FeelingDuped #PrettyFurious

    2. No. I don’t think I am. And if I am, then John White will be gone along with Common Core, so being wrong would not actually be all that bad. All the signs I’ve seen and heard point to White digging in his heels and staying and everyone else making excuses for why they can’t be expected to get rid of him. These were the wrong appointments to make while White and Common Core are still here, and you know it.

      Now the bastard will wiggle free again. I am pissed at the committee appointments and the lack of our representation while the reformers are given top billing.

      Nobody puts Crazy in a corner!

      If I’m too insignificant to contact or include in their deliberations and meetings, then they shouldn’t have a problem with me speaking my mind, to just a few other equally insignificant friends, now should they?

    3. I pray you are right, Lee! You should have been one of Edwards’ BESE appointees! And Dr Lottie Benee and Carolyn Hill! What happened? Libba

  1. Aftter teaching 24 years i can tell you GET RID OF WHITE.THE BIGGEST MISTAKE LOUISIANA HAS EVER MADE!!!!

  2. You all are getting what you deserve as is Louisiana. The difference between Dems and Reps is that Reps lie some of the time and Dems lie all of the time. It is all about money and power not necessarily in that order. Edwards is a fraud and lier and will go down as corrupt as all democrats are.

    1. Perhaps. I have heard that argument. It’s interesting the last time we elected an Edwards it was because David Duke, a Grand Wizard in the KKK was running. This time an Edwards won because of a serial lawbreaker and connoisseur of prostitutes decided to represent the party of Family Values in a very conservative state. Either Dardenne or Angelle would have beaten Edwards in a head to head. Vitter is the new David Duke.

  3. I’m shocked and sad that Louisiana constituents were so ill informed this election cycle.
    Jon Bell(end) promised to put us all on Obamacare.
    Vitter did the uncomfortable work to end the Gulf Drilling Moratorium, held up federal “rubber stamp” judgeships that allow the Feds to overrule the electorate, and also brought home billions for coastal restoration. I’d rather have a philandering governor than one who will soon be shuttering businesses all over the state, increasing taxes, ruining our schools & rewarding pay to play cronies with jobs & board memberships. Please consider candidate’s achievements instead of voting for PROMISES from POLITICIANS…

    1. Vitter all but promised to do the opposite of what needs to be done in education.

      I agreed with an initial moratorium while the story was coming out. Many Louisianan’s outside of oil in the tourism and fishing industry got the shaft as a result of gross negligence on behalf of BP, that also cost people their lives. Even 10 years later the Gulf has not fully recovered and we are still finding massive tar balls and tar mats. Had another similiar accident occurred you would be calling him an idiot for not applying a moratorium I’d reckon.

      Vitter did more than “philandering ” he engaged in serial illegal activities through numerous goverment elected jobs, in different cities over many years. His honesty and integrity were severly compromised by that. He was vulnerable to blackmail and likely to strike again, just like Tiger Woods has. It sounds like he has a real obsession with prostitutes and he has actually confirmed this.

      John Bel has not promised to put us All on Obamacare. He said he would accept Medicaid reimbursement for our indigent population. Insurance companies and coverage is not going away. Additionally, Americans are required to obtain coverage on the exchange regardless of whether JBE accepts this money, our own tax dollars, or not.

      These appointees did not donate to the Edwards campaign. I looked that up first.

      If you are unhappy that a Democrat was elected you have Bobby Jindal and his gross mismanagement and presidential ambitions and David Vitter and his numerous trysts with prostitutes to thank for that.

    2. As usual, we had no good choices, only less bad ones. Oil is tanking our economy right now and we needed to diversify not double down on it. BP brought that moratorium on us with their criminal behaviour that wreaked havoc on our fishing and tourism industry and still does today. We only profit minimally from oil while it destroys our coastline, our fisheries and way of life. We would be much better off without it. For instance, that’s who/what put Landrieu in office in the first place.

  4. I’d be careful about burning bridges at this point.

    Let’s consider the situation he’s in. He can’t come in guns blazing when he’s outnumbered and outgunned. That’s the reality.

    This is one of the areas where he will have to bide his time and strike when he has some kind of leverage.

    Common Core, for all the attention it got at the last few Leg. Sessions, was not a major issue during the election cycle. If it was – if that many people were opposed to it in a big way – then you wouldn’t have 7 elected pro-CC BESE members. The issue of John White was also not a major referendum. I know it seems so to you because that is what your vote was about, and that is your issue.

    But, right now, the state has bigger issues, and it will take all the new administration’s political clout to do what needs to be done to get some permanent sources of revenue so we don’t continue down the budget rabbit hole for many years to come.

    Remember, he doesn’t control BESE, and he doesn’t control the Legislature. He will need their cooperation and help to get any kind of changes in education. The Republicans in the legislature will have LABI breathing down their necks on all of these revenue issues, so they will be unlikely to risk their necks on anything else. If the administration is going to ask them to help pass revenue measures, they are darn sure not going to also ask them to “fix” education issues in the same year – esp. when the larger general public hasn’t made that an issue. (I bet most people think the Common Core issue was “fixed” when they agreed to appoint a task force to look at the standards. And, John-boy was very careful to stay out of the press in the last 6 months.)

    Also remember that Jindal did not work on his major education reforms until his 2nd term when he personally invested heavily in the BESE elections so he could control the Board. He was unable to get John White appointed until after that election because, before that, there was still a majority of BESE members who believed in traditional education and leaders, and they were not going to appoint a TFA, charter-school loving, unqualified person to that position. (If you bring up Pastorek, let me also remind you that many of those moderate Board members remembered him when he was a member of the Board, and none of them could know what kind of monster he would turn out to be – all due to his own political ambitions and power-grabbing.)

    John Bel has said he wants to build a non-partisan government while he is governor. The appointments to his transition team from opposing sides are part of that perception. He couldn’t load it up with everybody who opposes CC, Charter Schools, and Vouchers – that would be incredibly, politically obtuse.

    We also need to see who get the Senate and House Education Committee Chair positions. Those are key – and with yesterday’s Speaker election, he may not control that either.

    Just some thoughts from a different perspective…

    1. He didn’t put anyone from our groups on his committe, or even consult with anyone that I am aware of. I have literally no other way to get my issues heard as I was being blocked and filtered.

      Common Core was a huge issue to the folks that crossed over and got him elected. The 7 LABI candidates ran against Common Core publicly (even though most people in the know knew that was BS.) They took in money from superpacs and billionaires and out spent us hundreds to one in some cases. No one can win against those odds. They could have run on a Nazi platform and won.

      I ain’t waiting 4 more years. My kids are in school now. Nothing will matter in 4 years, and that is what these assholes are counting on. In 4 years Edwards will be laughed out of office if he doesn’t deliver on his promises. He probably lost his house pick because he picked someone pro-common core, pro reform and many of my folks lobbied against Leger. If he thinks he can focus on his other issues and not address our education concerns he will have a rude awakening. The only reason he is in office is because of his education positions and Vitter was such a nightmare. However, if the election was held today, Edwards would lose in a landslide after these poor decisions to trade away his ed picks and agenda and his choice to cram Obamacare and taxes down the throats of the conservative folks who backed him who actually did hope for a balanced, measured response and administration. He has left a great many folks and stakeholders out of his transition teams and we will rebel if that is not remedied very quickly. The fact that you raised the points you did is only further proof and justification for raising some hell. You all don’t even recognize us as significant and have misread your mandate. I say you all, because you are presenting the Edwards rationale I’ve been given pretty accurately. This is not a different perspective, it is the same one that I am not okay with and soundly reject.

      1. I’m not “you all,” just someone who watched closely as Jindal played out his strategy, and someone who understands political finesse. Also not disagreeing with you on disappointment on some of the education transition team choices. I expected less Leslie Jacobs and more Carolyn Hill. (Check the campaign finance reports to see how much Jacobs gave – she always gives to both candidates to hedge her bets.) I was very happy to not see representatives from LABI, CABL, Stand on Children, etc. on there.

        From watching Edwards in action in the legislature the last 4 years, it’s pretty clear where he stands on many of these issues, but thinking he will have the ability to sweep away Jindal’s mess after 2 days in office is a bit naïve.

        With the veto pen and control over the budget, he will have some leverage in June.

        You are very passionate about the subject, which is commendable. But, some emotional detachment might be in order to view the bigger picture and let things play out. Keep up the pressure by offering solutions and suggestions – maybe an op-ed in The Advocate before the session reminding the administration how important these issues are to the future of La’s education system and his legacy and his re-election bid. Start a report card with your issues, and grade the administration after the session on how they did.

        BTW – I am just as passionate about dealing with the scourge of charter schools in our state as they suck the lifeblood out of the public education system. 1st thing I would have done as Gov. is to reinstate the charter school cap that Pastorek forced the Leg. to remove to get the RTTT money, which never materialized. I will be most disappointed if he doesn’t find a way to put the kibosh on charter school growth during his 4-yr term, but I don’t expect big movement on that this year.

        My 2nd biggest issue is getting an outside audit of the La. Dept. of Ed’s data so we can get some clarity on where we really are w/o the obvious data-manipulation that has been going on. THIS is KEY! And, they could easily run a bill to require the data to be put on the public website as it used to be – and/or a bill to hold the Super. personally financially responsible for not providing records for records requests. Those could be used to help nudge White on his way.

        1. When I say you all it is not to put you on the Governors team, but his team of supporters who think I am being too harsh and need to sit on the sidelines and calmly see how “these things play out”.

          That is not exactly my style.

          My “passion” is what keeps we writing about these issues. I would find it quite difficult to dispassionatly write about these issues non-critically. Writing a gentle rebuke to the administration in an editorial and providing a vague suggestion to keep fighting the good fight, is not really my thing, especially in the wake of him appointing two procharter provoucher pro common core BESE members for the next 4 years of his term.

          How would I not be hypocritical of giving JBE a pass for this recent poor decision, while holding Jindal accountable for his previous appointees and support of Common Core?

          He was pretty clear on his promise to remove John White. I’m not unrealistic about the law, so if he made a good faith attempt with his appointees I’d have been satisfied and have given him strong backing for trying. This approach is not likely to force John White out as a result of anything he’s done. It’s not likely to remove Common Core, it’s not likely to challenge John White on any phoney claims and false reports. He actually made matters worse on the charter front than we were prior to his election. At this point the only way I see JW leaving is from old age.

          I am willing to compromise on every single other issue and cut him some slack. The one exception is John White. Nothing Edwards can do will amount to anything as long as JW remains in office. I will not suddenly support JW because the decisions are made under a Democrat administration.

          My options are either to wish you all good luck and pursue my other interests, or to continue to fight for what is right no matter who I have to bring the fight to.

          For now I have chosen to fight. As long as I am fighting there is no one above who gets a pass.

          I am discovering rapidly who my real friends were and who was just using me to get what they wanted. It’s funny how that works when people who were repressed are suddenly given the power that was used against them, and so quickly choose to use that power and influence against others – even those who suffered beside them but moments earlier.

        2. They publish data now but it is edited. They hide behind FERPA and the new data privacy law on all requests they don’t want to fill while they backdoor data to everyone just as before. The governor can’t hold white personally responsible anymore than he can remove him. CABL, STAND, and LABI were all over that board through surrogates, and they hold most of BESE.

          The time for finesse is over. We can’t finesse folks who are clubbing us like baby seals. You’ll finesse yourself into extinction that way. What good is the moral highground if that’s just where your tombstone is?

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