November 2, 2015

John Bel Edwards Is A Tool Of Teachers Unions, Not A Friend Of Education

John Bel Edwards is out with a new TV ad that claims he’s a “friend of education,” but his record shows that he’s plenty friendly with teachers unions, not so much with Louisiana students and families.

Edwards has consistently backed teachers unions’ agenda over school choice proposals favored by families. The Advocate’s editorial board accused Edwards of ignoring reality to appease his union backers in a blistering editorial this weekend:

The Louisiana School Boards Association does not endorse candidates for office, but we’re pretty sure individual members of the group have a favorite in the governor’s race. That’s because Democrat John Bel Edwards has been telling them what they want to hear about state takeover of long-failing schools…

…We do not wonder that Edwards, often allied with the LSBA and teacher unions during his two terms in the Legislature, would be reluctant to back the RSD. But we don’t think a candidate for governor can ignore the realities of a long-term bipartisan policy. State takeover is no plot against traditional systems but the result of persistent and objectively determined poor performance in a school.

The editorial also took issue with Edwards’ opposition to charter schools. In 2014, he introduced a bill in the House that would place major constraints on new charter schools opening, despite their proven success:

But candidates aren’t allowed to have their own sets of facts, and one fact is that students in New Orleans are vastly better off than they were under the pre-storm OPSB. Charters are a critical component of that success, and success it is, Mr. Edwards.

Edwards allied himself with his union supporters over low-income New Orleans families when he voted against landmark legislation to create $10 million in private and parochial school scholarships for New Orleans children living in poverty. The bill passed in spite of Edwards’ opposition.

Edwards even opposes public school choice. He sided with the unions to fight a 2010 measure giving local schools freedom to request waivers from certain state rules to improve “academic achievement,” agitating that it would create “havoc.” It ultimately passed.

Edwards is reaping the rewards of consistently toeing the union line in his campaign for governor – the state’s two largest unions, the Louisiana Association of Educators and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers are pooling their resources to spend money on Edwards’ behalf, in a campaign that’s Jeremy Alford said “could potentially become a second source of organization and money outside of the Democratic Party for Edwards.”