Earlier this month, after a bipartisan majority passed two new education bills in the Louisiana state house, teachers took the day off from work to protest in concert with activists, including the rather obscure Occupy Baton Rouge. In Cajun tradition, they held a raucous “funeral for education reform.” But on the contrary, Louisiana’s school reforms represent a new national birth of freedom for education. This is a huge step forward for conservative policy, especially with the establishment of unprecedented access to school choice.
As Jim Geraghty wrote in National Review last fall, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has enjoyed a spectacular run of success at governing his state, overhauling Louisiana, once derided as America’s “banana republic,” by cutting down corruption, improving business-friendliness, and reforming the health-care system. In fact, Jindal’s efforts were so successful that the Democratic party essentially didn’t bother putting forth a challenger in 2010; Louisiana had gotten so bad that dramatically reducing spending and cracking down on ethics violations didn’t anger the body politic at all. But then, of course, there were still public schools: With sacrosanct spending levels, lifetime tenure, and no accountability measures, they are the Louisiana-like rump in every state, holding back student achievement.
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