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 Lawmakers repealed Roemer’s landmark reforms, and he lost re-election.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.
Law firm unveils newly renovated 200-year-old building.
UL grad named web developer at BBR Creative
Lafayette-based emergency department staffing and management company raises $120 million in senior credit facilities through GE Capital, Healthcare Financial Services.
High-rise apartment building, parking garage, hotel and retail part of new development.
The number of Louisianans with jobs continued to set records in September, but the state's unemployment rate kept rising as new job seekers keep entering the market.
Louisiana is drowning, quickly.
An investment group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets will buy the Louisiana power company Cleco for $3.4 billion.
Local developer’s Lake Charles Gardens LLC purchases buildings and leases; land still owned by Dugas family.
Economist Loren Scott says Louisiana is in the midst of an industrial boom unlike any other in its history, with more than $100 billion in industrial projects either under construction or in the engineering and design phase.
The Louisiana Treasury holds $18 million in Israel Bonds — bonds that earn 2.868 percent when the three-year U.S. Treasury is yielding 1.08 percent.
ABiz celebrates another class of Acadiana's most influential female trailblazers, the Lourdes Foundation honors a local philanthropist and MedExpress in Opelousas celebrates its 22nd year as the “little ambulance service that could.”
Is Louisiana’s O&G industry ready to head south of the border?
Downtown’s newest live-work space for creatives doubles as a gallery for other upcoming artists to show their work.
A maritime case originating in Lafayette federal court could become a game changer for the oil and gas industry.
Here’s what’s at stake in the November Senate race — regardless of whether Republicans gain control of the upper chamber.
From the publisher’s in-box: ABiz reaches out to Lake Charles, time to “Come Home, Louisiana,” and now accepting nominations for Entrepreneur of the Year.
In late September Cleco and UL Lafayette showed off the Cleco Alternative Energy Center, where researchers explore ways to generate power by using renewable resources.
The most recent promotions, hirings and announcements from Acadiana's biz community.
While Amendments 1 and 2 will shield some health care providers from the budgetary whims of Gov. Jindal, they could make higher ed even more vulnerable to cuts.
Age 60 looks good on the country’s second-largest oil and gas show.
Local pieces and logo-emblazoned corporate gifts
Let’s show how much we care what it looks like.
The Memphis based investment firm Wunderlich recently arrived in Louisiana with the opening of a wealth management branch in Lafayette.
Broussard will soon be the site of a new Courtesy Automotive dealership.
Event addresses the industry’s growing need for qualified employees by providing an industry specific networking event.