There are many critics of those who want to organize the city of St. George. But let’s look back and see who is really responsible for this movement. No one woke up one day and said, “Let’s start a city.” That wasn’t the case for the city of Central either. Both movements arose from parents who wanted good schools for their children and who didn’t want to move out of the parish to achieve that. Can you blame them?
The people of Central saw what the residents of Zachary had and wanted that, too. They attempted to get control of their schools and establish an independent district, like those in Texas. Then-state Sen. Kip Holden opposed such a move, claiming they were not a city, and their bill was defeated. My understanding is that a “city” is not required for an independent school district. (The state of Texas has more than 1,000 school districts.) But Holden used that excuse and forced the people of Central to incorporate.
Likewise, when the parents of southeast Baton Rouge decided they wanted control of their schools like Zachary and Central, they went to the Legislature and asked twice for a vote of the people to allow them to proceed. State Rep. Pat Smith, a former East Baton Rouge school board member, led the charge to deny the vote and kill the bill using the same false claim that this area was not a “city.” That bill was defeated for two years and forced the hand of parents to follow the Central model and petition to become St. George. Did you know all of that history? There’s more.
Fact is, Rep. Smith was one of the worst members of the school board, teaming up with the teachers unions to fight all forms of school choice and innovation to improve our system for all children. She led the charge years ago to keep KIPP Academy—one of the top charter school operators in the country—out of Baton Rouge 17 years ago. She protected her political turf and denied our children and her own constituents access to an excellent education. What a shame and disgrace and loss for our community.
Scott Shirey, who applied to open a school here, has been in Arkansas and now operates six schools at KippDelta.org. In November 2011, Forbes listed Mr. Shirey as one of the world’s seven most powerful educators. Smith ran him out of Baton Rouge in 2001. KIPP now has 209 schools in America, and 11 are in New Orleans. There are still zero in Baton Rouge thanks to Smith. Did you know all this history? Did you forget it? I didn’t. I think of it as I listen to Smith babble on TV about caring for children and wanting to provide for them. Nonsense. And to think that many of our legislators followed her lead to kill the bill to let people vote on an independent district—and go along with the ruse that there had to be a city. More nonsense.
Smith and Holden and all the legislators that went along with denying these people a vote on their school district are to blame for the effort to form a city of St. George. It’s their fault.
Smith and Holden and all the legislators that went along with denying these people a vote on their school district are to blame for the effort to form a city of St. George. It’s their fault. All who followed “Pat the Piper” should be held accountable. Who can blame the people of Baker, Zachary, Central or southeast Baton Rouge for wanting to get the best education for their children? Not me.
I have lived in Baton Rouge all my life. Raised my children here. I love our city. Do I think we can be stronger united? Yes. Do I like seeing our city divided? No. But we must remember history and the role many played to cause this situation—and also those in the Legislature and in our community who lacked the courage to stand up to the Pat Smiths and the unions. (Let’s all look in the mirror.) Many failed to lead, and they shouldn’t be pointing the finger at anyone with the St. George movement. You made your bed. They want to vote on making their own.
I don’t know at this point if those living in the southeast part of the parish would be open to a vote on an independent school district as originally proposed. That ship may have sailed—and who can blame them?
To read of 17 people being killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was truly unbelievable. What a tragedy for these families. And what a troubled youth who exhibited many red flags that were shared with law enforcement—and ignored.
Now the debate and protests are focused on gun control. But if Nikolas Cruz had been investigated and intercepted after multiple tips and warnings, would there be any funerals or protests?
The phrase law enforcement preaches is, “See something, say something.” People did, over months, to the FBI and local sheriff’s office, even referring to Cruz as a potential “school shooter” and an individual likely to “explode.” And no one did anything.
On top of that, an armed deputy was on the scene that day, and he never entered the school to confront the shooter.
Where is the outrage by the public and media toward those responsible for stopping such violent acts? Why didn’t they do their jobs and potentially save innocent students from dying?
If we already have procedures, laws and training to protect our children and people don’t follow them and perform, what will adding new laws accomplish?
Support law enforcement
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has launched a charitable fund to support law enforcement. Tax-deductible donations will be used to purchase equipment and support programs that are needed to fight the rise in crime across Baton Rouge.
The new fund follows $540,000 pledged by Jim Bernhard, Mike Wampold and other business leaders, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, and BRAF.
District Attorney Hillar Moore says high-tech equipment purchased will help police officers and sheriff’s deputies respond more quickly to crime scenes, increasing the chances of catching and convicting criminals
You can donate through a link at BRAF.org