David Vitter: A Rose By Any Other Name…

David_Vitter-112th_congress-Well, in this case, doesn’t smell sweet, at all. That’s a line from Shakespeare, by the way. I learned that in a high school English literature class in a public school system that I am very proud of. Which kind of takes me to my point.

Since the 2011 election cycle, Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has become a household name. Not because it is being embraced. On the contrary. First, the term CCSS was forced into our lives by unscrupulous politicians. Then parents and teachers began to oppose the CCSS and it crept into more households. Now, four years later, after a miserable failed effort to take over the public school system, those same politicians who forced it on us, are now claiming opposition and throwing their support into rewriting academic standards. Louisiana is currently undergoing a standards review process that will ultimately end up in a rebranding of the CCSS. That’s right. Even the two non-profit organizations that hold the copyright on CCSS, National Governor’s Association (NGO) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), are apparently okay with this. How do we know? Because both the Louisiana Superintendent of Education and the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education, District 7 board member, are employed by the CCSSO. That’s right! John White and Holly Boffy work for one of the organizations that owns the CCSS.

downloadThere are many pieces to the education reform puzzle. It serves many purposes to many people. Among those reasons the most important appear to be:

  • Converting tax dollars to profit via charter schools run by private organizations.
  • Labeling all students as “at-risk” in order to increase funding to the charter schools.
  • Developing a workforce that is capable of performing menial repetitious tasks with little need for supervision.

For the last 5 years, CCSS has been the vehicle for accomplishing that. It was pitched as a means for below poverty level communities to reach a higher economic status through “choice” education. A by product of that is the above poverty level, middle and upper-middle class, communities are brought down to somewhere below a not so happy medium, leaving opportunities to move up in status only available to the elite.

IMG_3204Because CCSS was such a miserable failure, the politicians are now distancing themselves from any and all references to it. That is where the rose comes in. You can call it what you want, but it is still a rose. The goals, as outlined above, are still the same. They will just use CCSS under another name. Governor Jindal was the first politician in Louisiana to do it. I suspect he gained a lot of followers by doing it, but his agenda hasn’t changed. Now, some of the strongest supporters of CCSS in the Louisiana Legislature are doing the same. Senator Conrad Appel is seeking re-election while touting that he led the way in getting rid of CCSS. Wake up, Conrad. CCSS isn’t gone, and those of us who have fought to get rid of it know your role.

So, where does David Vitter fit in to all of this? Well, it’s his turn to shun the CCSS. You’ve probably seen the television ads funded by GumboPac with the video clip of Vitter saying, “I strongly support the Common Core standards.” Today, his campaign is running ads that state he is against CCSS. Hmmm? When did he change his stance? Well, he didn’t. I’ll show you why.

The Fund for Louisiana’s Future (FLF) is a Political Action Committee (PAC) registered with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) with the stated purpose of supporting the re-election of David Vitter to the Senate in 2016. It is also registered with the Louisiana Ethics Commission with the stated purpose of opposing Jay Dardenne, Scott Angelle and John Bel Edwards while supporting David Vitter for Governor of Louisiana in 2015. That’s right! The same PAC has two stated purposes. The largest single contributor to FLF is the David Vitter U.S. Senate Campaign to the tune of $790,000. Both the campaign and the PAC are run by the same husband and wife team, Charles and Lisa Spies. In the event that Vitter isn’t elected Governor, they will simply use the remaining funds to promote his re-election to the Senate. Pretty snazzy, isn’t it? By the way, in March 2014, a complaint was filed with the FEC alleging that the FLF PAC was illegally soliciting funds for two campaigns, simultaneously, above the $5,000 legal limit for individuals. It has not been resolved. You can download and read the complaint by clicking here.

Well, that all gets pretty complicated. Maybe another blog. What I want to illustrate is that Vitter has not changed his position on CCSS, or education reform. He has only changed his words. Let’s talk about some of the contributors to the PAC.

While some of these contributions aren’t as large as others, it is important that you don’t discredit their purpose. The fact remains that when a person, or entity, makes the decision to contribute a large sum of money to a candidate, it is not without the expectation of something in return.

Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), is based in Fort Lauderdale, FL and owned by Jonathan Hage. They manage charter schools all over the U.S. To give you an idea how lucrative this is, the Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy paid $1.2 million to CSUSA in management fees. They have contributed $15,000 to FLF, $11,750 to Holly Boffy (BESE), $4,000 to Jay Guillot (BESE) and $5,000 to Bobby Jindal.

-f2c78c17b41bbf59Steve Jordan (Central Crude), Charles Drost (LC Pilots), Jack Lawton, Lee Mallett and William Dore’ (Global Industries) are all representatives of the Alliance SWLA (Chamber of Commerce) and contributed a combined $107,000. Dore’ was also noted as the Lake Charles billionaire who contributed $1,000,000 to the Rick Santorum presidential campaign. It should also be noted that Lawton is owner of Walnut Grove (upscale residential development) and contributed $1,000 to Holly Boffy.

Last, but certainly not least, Lane Grigsby (Cajun Industries) contributed $125,ooo.

And there it is all spelled out. A continuous circle of deception in the education reform movement that connects CCSS supporters Holly Boffy, Jay Guillot, Bobby Jindal, Lane Grigsby, Charter Schools USA and now, David Vitter. Let me be the first to warn you. If you support David Vitter, and you intend to vote for him, you will be voting for the continuation of the destruction of public schools and continued suffering of our children.