by Rob Broussard
I read two articles in The Times on Sunday October 19, 2014, that left me to wonder whether the Citizens for a Better Caddo were racist, sexist, elitist, or manipulative. I suggest readers ponder, for a moment, how I arrived to that conclusion based on the comments made by guest columnist Ed Crawford, Zazell Dudley, and, while not a columnist, the chairman, Philip Rozeman as identified by Denee Locke in the Broadmoor Neighborhood Forum October, 2014. Two of those comments, (1) “Some of our board members have yet to embrace the structural reform necessary to address these concerns and have allowed too many of our schools to continue to fail…”. And, (2)“We represent a grass root organization…” are of major concern.
Is it racist that the Pac selectively chose only whites as targets as their “chosen” candidates? (Note that black candidates in other districts were given cursory interviews but none received money to date and none of the three targeted incumbents received interviews.) Are we to believe that only “whites” have voted, as board members, for policies that have led to our schools failing? Can you please support your accusations with data and documents? Are we to believe that in their benevolent wisdom the PAC could only identify whites, two of which have some of the highest performing schools in their district, as those who are out to cause our schools to fail? Schools in district 4 and 8 are the schools most choice kids and M&M kids choose to go to. Apparently the PAC has 0.not been to many school board meetings and are ignoring data.
Is it Sexist, that the only three “targeted” perpetrators of the above egregious grievances are women… (I am a Republican, and maybe this is what DNC chairperson Wasserman means when describing the “war” on women that exist in our country.)? Am I to believe that no man on that board has voted for items that led to our schools failing? What about the “phones in the classroom” fiasco that cost this system millions? Surely their response is that we are supporting three white women, but come on, no incumbent men have done any of the things for which you fault the 3 targeted.
How about elitism? When I read, and then did the research of the Pac and its membership, I saw the primary “companies” donating $10,000 a piece and then the individuals and their spouses of some of those companies donating another $1,000 to the chosen candidates. Does that illustrate a grassroot effort? Further examination points to the Committee of 100… got that … ONE HUNDRED … as significant players in the PAC. Which Grassroots is this PAC smoking? I wonder if membership in that PAC or in the Committee of 100 would be open to others like myself that are plain ole blue collar middle class citizens with equal passions about education.
Maybe manipulative could best describe the efforts exposed by MS. Brumble. The chairman of the PAC, Philip Rozeman, a local “heart doctor” has, for over a decade, tried his best to be a major “player” in local educational politics. Whether through “his” Alliance for Education, the Independent School movement, the Citizens for a Better Caddo or the Magnolia charter, Philip has tired incessantly to inject his “wisdom” as to the why he has a better plan than all the highly educated professional educators employed in this system. Why doesn’t he run for school board in his district and lead from the front in a low performing school that he refers to so often in his letters and comments about our school system. Philip really needs to retire from the doctor business and devote 100% of his energy to educational issues as it is obvious that is where his greatest love is.
Too, while not “elitist” in nature, Rozeman suggest that all board members talk (vote) about Caddo Parish as a whole and not “my schools”. Then what he has suggested is that his organization should have targeted those board members that have fought to keep “My schools” in “My district” open when the dynamics suggest that they be closed. And, if we carry his logic to the end, then Caddo Parish should do away with the “districts” and elect all board members as at large representatives.
Before I conclude, I want to confess. I too want a better school system. But as a former educator, I often wonder why these “Reformers”, like those referred to above, won’t address the basic, core issue at the heart of failing kids/schools. It is parents. But everyone involved knows the answer to the silence of the elephant in the room on that issue, political correctness. That said, never in the history of education in this country has more been given to create an equal educational opportunity for those that want it. The stark reality is that we can create equal educational opportunities but can never create equal educational results. If so, my three sons would all be Rhode Scholars.
In conclusion besides a thank you to MS. Brumble, I want to inject that it is my opinion that money and power are at the heart of this issue as is the case in most political races. To quote a graduate professor of mine from LSUS, ”Those that have power and money are fighting to keep it and those that want power and money are fighting to get it. “ And finally, I was going to vote for one of the candidates that received money from this PAC. Now I’m not so sure. I do believe however that this PAC, The Citizens for a Better Caddo, should have to document how those not targeted have embraced structural reforms and vice versa for those targeted. To settle for less out of them is a disservice to the responsibilities we have as an informed electorate.
Shreveport, Louisiana, 71105