Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Schools aren't St. Helena's cup of tea

Welcome to Tea Party America.

When Mr. Beck goes to Washington to proclaim a Christian revival and preach the gospel of self-reliance and responsibility, in places like St. Helena Parish, La., that translates into "God helps those who help themselves." And in Louisiana, that may not mean what you think it does.

For example, in St. Helena Parish, God helps white parents who "help themselves" -- and their kids -- to private-school educations, oftentimes across the parish line. The Almighty also helps blacks -- who make up 95.1 percent of public-school enrollment despite comprising 53 percent the parish's population -- to facilities with crumbling walls, exposed wiring, filthy lunchrooms, sewer lines lying in open trenches . . . and snakes in the restroom.

Conditions are so bad that a federal judge has ordered parts of the parish's three schools cordoned off. And the state fire marshal wants fire alarms and electrical wiring fixed in 30 days.

THE PARISH'S civic culture (if you can call it that) is so dysfunctional that voters have shot down four school-tax measures in three years. This has led U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to consider raising the property tax by fiat.

Tea-party types are, of course, outraged. Not about children attending class in fetid, dangerous conditions, but instead about "taxation without representation," says the Lincoln Parish News Online blog:
St. Helena Parish is about to form a tea party to fight precisely what our forefathers fought over 200 years ago – taxation without representation. Alton Travis, a 12-year St. Helena school board member, has begun preliminary efforts to organize a group. “I’ve made some phone calls and I’m putting together a contact list,” Travis said.

Mr. Travis spoke earlier today with Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) from his home near Kentwood.

Last week, LPNO had reported about U. S. District Judge James Brady’s plans to impose a tax upon St. Helena residents without a vote. Brady is the former chairman of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Travis said he has been in contact with the Baton Rouge Tea Party (BRTP) for help in organizing a group in St. Helena Parish. “I really don’t know why we’re talking about this,” said Travis in reference to taxes imposed by a judge contrary to voter’s wishes. “Things like that shouldn’t even be contemplated.”

Parish voters had previously turned down several attempts to pass new school taxes. On May 1, parish voters rejected a 55 mil property tax by a 62% margin. The tax issue has gone back over twenty years, according to Travis, and has been voted upon at least a dozen times.

Some have tried to portray a negative vote on school taxes as a racist vote, but as the parish is 52% black, it is clear that many blacks voted no on the tax. LPNO readers will recall how last fall’s defeat of a Baton Rouge tax was painted as “racist” by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.

LEAVE IT to tea partiers to talk of "responsibility" to others while abdicating responsibility wholesale in their own back yards. The problem here is not a rogue federal judge potentially usurping beleaguered citizens' constitutional rights; the problem here is that selfish, irresponsible citizens hide behind self-government guarantees to carry out racially disproportionate child neglect, and do so with impunity.

The problem in Southern cesspools like St. Helena Parish, La., is not that the constitutional order has been usurped. The problem is that, in the wake of the Civil War, the feds ended Reconstruction about 50 years too soon.

Shame is a scarce commodity in St. Helena, and the latest story from
The Advocate is proof:
A report from the fire marshal is one of three reports from state agencies citing problems in St. Helena Parish public schools.

Air vents are causing contamination in the cafeteria of St. Helena Central Elementary School, a report by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals states.

A state Department of Environmental Quality report cites problems of asbestos, mold-like substances and ceiling leaks in parish schools.

Earlier this month, a federal judge ordered inspections and reports on the schools.

The condition of the schools has become an issue in a 57-year-old desegregation lawsuit involving the St. Helena Parish school system.

Daisy Slan, the superintendent of parish schools, said Monday afternoon she needs help — mainly in the form of modular classrooms — as quickly as possible.

She said she is trying to get contractor quotes, but doesn’t see how she can meet the Fire Marshal’s deadline.

In addition to the age and condition of the main high-school structure, Slan said, “the problem is that we have buildings scattered all across the campus.”

Some of those buildings aren’t suitable for use as classrooms in their current condition, Fire Marshal H. “Butch” Browning said Monday.

The fire alarms and electrical issues are serious problems, he said.

The high school is being allowed to continue to operate for 30 days as long as it conducts regular fire watches and keeps logs of those fire watches, Browning said.
LISTEN NOT to what Glenn Beck and Friends proclaimed on the same Lincoln Memorial steps Martin Luther King spoke from 47 years before. Watch instead what the audience to whom they pander does when no one is looking.

Like neglect its own children -- or at least black children -- leaving them to languish in rotting buildings, amid all manner of contamination and be taught by grossly underpaid teachers.

Unsurprisingly, test scores are in the toilet. Along with the snakes.

Down there in Tea Party America.

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