By Robert Mann
Why is it when I hear Gov. Bobby Jindal and his aides talking, I often wonder, “Just how gullible do they think we are?”
One recent example of Jindal’s belief in our collective stupidity occurred last Monday in response to Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s even-handed report on Common Core’s education standards. Forty-six states embraced Common Core in some form, but detractors on the right and left vigorously oppose them.
Purpera tried to provide legislators with some clarity. Too bad that wasn’t also Jindal’s goal.
Jindal long championed Common Core, but reversed himself earlier this year. The standards, which he and other governors devised, are now, in his words, “the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”
“The standards tell education authorities, teachers, parents, and the general public what skills students should acquire as they move from grade to grade but do not dictate how teachers should teach those skills,” Purpera’s report concluded. “Standards are not the same thing as curricula, textbooks, lesson plans, or classroom activities and assignments.”
Purpera’s assessment isn’t remarkable. It’s a view Jindal once held. What’s remarkable, however, is how Jindal dishonestly twisted Perpera’s words. Of the report, Jindal said on Twitter, “Legislative report shows CommonCore is curriculum & Washington D.C. is driving what our children are taught @ school.”
Jindal’s assistant chief of staff, meanwhile, also seems to think we’re stupid. “We appreciate the Legislative Auditor’s report as it confirms what parents, educators, legislators and the Governor have been saying all along – standards drive curriculum,” Stafford Palmieri said in a written statement.
That’s not only false; it’s the opposite of what Perpera wrote. Jindal’s tweet and Palmieri’s statement were blatant, outrageous distortions.
Turns out that this variety of smarmy, shameless reliance on our ignorance is the approach Jindal and his commissioner of administration, Kristy Nichols, have also adopted in recent months to explain their alarming raid of a reserve fund for the state’s Office of Group Benefits (OGB). That agency provides health care insurance for 230,000 state workers and retirees.
Jindal and legislators privatized the program and outsourced its functions to Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2012. Privatization was a solution in search of a problem. At the time, OGB had a $500 million reserve account, a healthy amount to protect state workers from fluctuations in the health care market.
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