From education reform to presidential politics, Bobby Jindal’s playbook owes a lot to Buddy Roemer.
| Photo Illustration by Jason Roy
Comparing the two is easy. But first we need to recognize a bold reality and put it aside.
Buddy Roemer took office as governor as a Democrat in 1988 and then switched to the GOP before losing a second term. Now he has no party affiliation as part of his — COUGH! — strategy to become the 45th president of the United States.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who assumed office in 2008, is a dyed-in-the-wool Republican. Though he’ll likely run for president someday, Jindal is not running right now. Not in the traditional sense, at least.
That aside, Jindal and Roemer are like the Doublemint Twins of Louisiana politics. Both are intensely serious, Ivy League-educated reformers who attracted large coteries of devoted followers on their way into office. In fact, Jindal heard many “you’re-just-like-him” comments when he ran for governor.
As the current presidential cycle and Jindal’s push for education reform near their respective peaks, the governor is retracing steps originally trod, with considerably less finesse, by Roemer. In the long run, Jindal may end up accomplishing, on more than one level, what Roemer once sought.
In Great Expectations but Politics as Usual: The Rise and Fall of a State-Level Evaluation Initiative, Bob L. Johnson recounts how Roemer initially succeeded in passing reforms for accountability and teacher evaluations, only to see them eroded in subsequent years.
“The problems and politics associated with (Roemer’s) Louisiana Teacher Evaluation Program worked against Roemer and his bid for re-election,” Johnson writes. “Teachers played a key role in his defeat.”
The grassroots teacher movement to reverse Roemer’s policies was impressive. Tens of thousands of teachers organized. Lawmakers repealed Roemer’s landmark reforms, and he lost re-election.
Maybe that’s why Jindal waited until a second term to tackle this controversial topic, that third rail of grown-up politics. He has had four years to build his national name recognition, raise record-setting amounts of money and influence legislative races across the state. As all this was playing out, Louisiana voters became more conservative.
According to some involved with ongoing education reform discussions, Jindal is poised to get what he wants in tenure changes and enhancements for early childhood education. “Everything else is going to be tough,” said one of the governor’s stakeholders.
Several other major issues remain:
• A move to give local superintendents more control over personnel decisions (and more independence from local board members).
• Expanding Louisiana’s fledgling voucher program by giving parents with kids in poor performing public schools the option of sending their kids to private schools.
• Making it easier for charter operators that perform well to open new charter schools.
• Expanding the list of “authorizers” that can grant charters to potentially include faith-based groups (read: fundamentalist churches, which are big Jindal backers).
The battle is just beginning — and we may be saying that even after the session adjourns. Johnson recounts how teacher unions unsuccessfully challenged Roemer’s programs in court before making their case with voters. Jindal may face the same fate, but not necessarily the same results.
Roemer probably isn’t watching this as he runs for president. Jindal, however, is most certainly watching the aftereffects of Super Tuesday. Jindal was on the campaign trail for a while — until his horse, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, pulled up lame. Now he’s mentioned (with others) as a possible candidate in a brokered convention.
As comedian Stephen Colbert passes Roemer to become the sixth-most popular draft candidate of Americans Elect, Jindal may also be learning what not to do if he decides to jump into the presidential fray.
For now, Jindal is taking cues from Roemer’s education reform crusade — and making his own way down that ivy-covered road of promise.
A divided 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a Lafayette district judge’s ruling absolving the co-owner of a New Iberia accounting firm of liability in an embezzlement case.
Our View: It’s reasonable, temporary and invests in Lafayette’s future.
“I am only getting a little nervous about two projects — the proposed Sasol GTL facility [not the new ethylene plant] and the proposed G2X facility — both in Lake Charles. They need a hefty difference between oil and natural gas prices to make sense.”
Lower oil prices also might slow the growth of oil production in parts of the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because it will no longer be so profitable.
A Lafayette woman faces up to 20 years in prison for running up more than $1 million in unauthorized charges to her company credit card.
Signs that our state’s banking industry is undergoing a downsizing in 2014 were further confirmed today with the FDIC’s latest figures showing a third straight quarter in which Louisiana lost more banks and earned less money.
State police say a 47-year-old Lafayette man, who collected more than $83,000 in disability benefits, is accused of operating two businesses out of his home at a time when he claimed he had no income.
Facing opposition from a powerful industry, the governor and many in the Legislature, a New Orleans-area flood board's lawsuit against dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies seemed doomed early on.
Thursday’s explosion aboard an oil production platform in the Gulf of Mexico is now under investigation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Money from the first and only settlement so far in a Louisiana flood board's lawsuit against dozens of energy companies will be placed in a special account dedicated to coastal restoration.
BP is heading to a federal appeals court in its effort to oust the administrator of damage settlement claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The 59-41 Senate vote was one shy short of the 60 needed to clear the House-passed measure.
Spot bonuses to employees who go above and beyond on projects one of several reasons national mag calls BR-based biz bank a cool place to work.
The Director Search Committee interviewed the five men still in the running via video last week and is set to trim the field this week.
Telecom’s decision to halt deployment to more than 100 cities while it awaits net-neutrality rules appears to be little more than a temper tantrum.
Environmental (and political) junkies got a double fix when The Lens hosted a discussion between its environmental writer and the lead attorney in the levee board suit.
Follow The IND to hear Lens environmental reporter Bob Marshall's interview with Gladstone Jones, the lead attorney in the lawsuit against the oil and gas companies for coastal damages.
The $35B deal leaves the burning question about what it will mean for the thousands of these two service giants' local employees.
Broussard & David set up shop at the corner of Jefferson and Vermilion.
in light of falling oil prices, Forbes asks, “Will there be more?”
Lake Charles lets Acadiana companies in on the action as our neighbor to the west prepares for unprecedented growth.
A new study analyzes the state of the Lake Charles region and the impact 19 industrial projects will have on residents.
A U.S. magistrate judge calls “garbage” on behavior of attorneys for Progressive Waste Solutions.
The Lafayette food truck scene is slowing down but not stopping.
Lake-area financial institutions seeing green.