Education Secretary Arne Duncan received a warm welcome in New Orleans on Thursday when he spoke to the Bureau of Governmental Research, and he returned the favor by praising the city for its fearlessness in rebuilding public education.
So it’s hard to understand why, before the secretary even opened his mouth, Gov. Bobby Jindal felt compelled to weigh in with a shrill statement attacking a man who has been such a friend to Louisiana.
The governor’s statement didn’t get much attention, perhaps because Louisianians have grown weary of campaign rhetoric as toxic as kerosene. But the statement is worth recounting here:
“Following the election of Bill Cassidy to the U.S. Senate and the defeat of Mary Landrieu, President Obama has now decided to send Secretary Arne Duncan to Louisiana. The president said his policies were on the ballot this election, including ‘Obamacare,’ Common Core and giving amnesty to illegal aliens. After he made that statement, the American people widely rejected those policies across the nation in red states, blue states and purple states. And here in Louisiana, Bill Cassidy opposed these policies, while Mary supported them — and Mary lost.
“So we have to wonder — is the president sending Secretary Duncan here to double down on these failed policies and bully us into federal overreach and the Obama administration’s top-down education agenda? Or is he going to reach across the aisle and offer to work with the majority of Louisianians who support Louisiana’s successful bottom-up approach to education that gives local control to our educators and parents? Mary Landrieu supported Common Core and was soundly defeated — the voters have spoken. We hope Secretary Duncan is coming to Louisiana to see how real education reform is benefiting kids and families in the real world, and we hope he wants to work with us.”
Just days before, Duncan’s Education Department granted Louisiana $32 million to send more than 10,000 children to pre-kindergarten classes.
In 2010, Duncan awarded New Orleans $1.8 billion to rebuild schools damaged by Hurricane Katrina — resolving an issue that vexed his Republican predecessors for more than three years.
Louisiana needs a constructive partnership with Washington as our state continues to recover from the costliest disaster in U.S. history. A partnership is not possible if Jindal is in permanent campaign mode, always on the attack to score political points.
We deserve better than to have our governor walk across the street to pick a needless fight.