“I did not create this breeze of hope that’s blowing across our state,
but I did catch it. The people chose hope over scorn.”
-Governor-elect John Bel Edwards
What could be better than a fresh “breeze of hope” blowing across Louisiana during this holiday season?
So, in the spirit of the season and buoyed by this pleasant breeze, the leadership and staff of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers wishes you a very merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays.
It has been a long, frustrating eight years since Governor Jindal was elected in 2007. Memories of contentious, seemingly endless legislative sessions followed by regular visits to courtrooms are the ghosts of our Christmases’ past. Serious questions regarding the constitutionality of poorly drafted, politically motivated laws competed with dancing sugarplums practically each holiday season during Governor Jindal’s term. They were eight very hard years.
It’s time for that fresh breeze, folks. Very specific corrections to law and policy are necessary, and it’s going to take a great deal of effort on the part of all of us to make these changes happen.
However, make no mistake about it, on November 21st, 2015, with the election of Governor John Bel Edwards, Louisiana voters gave educators the gift of a leader with a record of fighting for public education, teachers, and school employees.
This means that while there is a lot of damage to repair, we have a governor who supports public education and wants to work with us. And, we want to work with him.
It’s not going to be easy. Our governor must first address another billion dollar deficit and the structural deficiencies in Louisiana’s tax structure. After years of smoke and mirrors budgeting, the mess must be cleaned up. Funding to higher education and providing the resources needed to support K-12 schools hang in the balance.
Our governor will face many challenges. Millionaires and billionaires once again played large in the election of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2015. So, it is left to be seen whether a majority of BESE members will choose to work in good faith with our governor.
In the legislature, also in question is whether a working majority of legislators will put Louisiana first and work with Governor John Bel Edwards to solve our state’s problems, or a divisive body will make reasonable governance unnecessarily rancorous in the name of partisan politics.
Nonetheless, this much is clear: We helped to elect this governor. The campaign to elect John Bel Edwards taught us some very important lessons. One, we’re stronger together. LFT and LAE’s decision to combine efforts and resources was historic … and fun. Two, member involvement is critical to our success as a union, and more importantly, as a movement to support high quality public education. Third, our governor couldn’t have been elected without our help, and he’s going to need all of our involvement to govern successfully.
In closing, we want you and your loved ones to enjoy the fresh breeze that makes this holiday season special for LFT staff and leadership. Then, we’re counting on each of you to help us help John Bel Edwards put Louisiana first and make Louisiana proud.
Steve Monaghan, President