Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Bobby would have fit right in

Poor Bobby Jindal. He did everything an aspiring GOP big timer has to do to get elected or appointed to national office these days.  He always flanked to the right of the field no matter the issue. He took the Norquist pledge. He refused to see any problem that couldn't be solved by privatizing state assets away to cronies or at least cutting taxes for rich people.  He even got in on the racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant fervor that animates so much of the GOP base these days which was a bold move for a non-white son of immigrants to make.

None of this got him elected but, under different circumstances, it could have gotten him a role in the new Trump Administration. He would have fit right in.
In nominating billionaire activist Betsy DeVos for education secretary, Trump has signaled that, like Jindal, abandoning public schools is one promise he hopes to keep. Trump proposes using $20 billion in federal funds as block grants to encourage states to fund private-school vouchers. That would mean diverting another $110 billion in state and local funds to send students to private schools that conservatives like DeVos claim are superior to their so-called "government school" counterparts.

However, Trump and DeVos -- who has spent $1.6 million trying to influence Louisiana elections -- must persuade cash-strapped governors and legislators to spend scarce resources on a scheme that's failed wherever it's been tried.

This is where the disappointment of Jindal's voucher program enters the picture, as policy makers and the media will inevitably examine its dismal performance. At Jindal's urging, in 2008 lawmakers created the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), enabling some disadvantaged students to leave public schools graded a C or lower and enroll in a participating private school. By 2014, more than 6,000 public school students attended one of 126 private schools.
Mann goes on to argue in that column that the negative example of Jindal's "failed" voucher program might prove to be a problem for Trump and DeVos's schemes moving forward.  
In a paper published last year by the National Bureau for Economic Research, three scholars documented "the large negative effects" and the reduced academic achievements of scholarship program students in 2013, the first year after the program's expansion.

"Our results show that LSP vouchers reduce academic achievement," the researchers concluded, explaining, "attendance at an LSP-eligible private school is estimated to lower math scores" and "reduce reading, science and social studies scores."

Why? "We find evidence," the researchers wrote, "that the negative effects of the LSP may be linked to selection of low-quality private schools into the program."
But, no, none of that matters. The whole point of the exercise is an ideologically driven assault on the very idea of universal public education.  In that respect, Jindal's Louisiana experiment and DeVos's in Michigan have been big successes. And now it's time to push that program at the national level. 

Bobby could have fit right in with Trump.  But he made that one fatal mistake of publicly attacking the boss that one time.  And, well, now he's got to go find something else to do.

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