Rafael Rafidi.1

Businessman Rafael Rafidi is sworn in to the Jefferson Parish School Board.

School systems are supposed to serve as a bedrock of democracy. When democracy is under attack all across the country, it is important that teachers play a major role in the matters that impact our own school communities.

When the Jefferson Parish School Board appointed an insurrectionist to the largest public school system in the state, I knew that taking a public stand was necessary. As a history teacher who discusses the values of democracy on a daily basis with my students, how could I be silent on this issue?

The appointment of Rafael Rafidi by the Jefferson Parish School Board demonstrated how fragile and in danger democracy really is.

Though this businessman from Metairie resigned within a few days, the fact that our school board appointed someone who bragged about attending the Jan. 6, 2021 “Stop the Steal Rally” in Washington has been a tremendous embarrassment for this community.

The school board claiming to not know about this person’s past and not vetting him thoroughly for such an important position is alarming as well. His social media posts also stated that teachers had “no values” and “no work ethic.” These statements further show how unqualified he was for the job. They further reveal how anti-democratic his intentions really were, as it certainly signaled a lack of willingness to work with teachers.

Teachers in Louisiana are leaving the profession in droves. It is not because we do not love our students and love our work. It’s because teachers are too often told what to do instead of being democratically included in major decision-making processes that impact our school systems.

What will the future of our democracy look like if we continue to NOT listen to teachers about matters in education?

JOHN GUZDA

social studies department chair, West Jefferson High School

New Orleans