Bobby Jindal’s failed war on HBCUs

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(Real Times Media)—I am finally convinced that the Republican party has been taken over by secret Democratic operatives. A team of highly-trained well-placed Obama/Saul Alinsky operatives have been working their way into the Republican party for years now with one single goal: To ensure Republicans lose the Presidential election of 2012. With a bad economy and general discontent in their favor how else can you explain the apocalyptic incompetence of Republican governors since the 2010 election? In a mere months they’ve blown more political capital than Deborah Palfrey.

JasonJohnsonBox

Scott Walker in Wisconsin has managed to do what Democrats haven’t been able to in 30 years, galvanize the labor movement in a non-election year. John Kasich in Ohio has managed to get teachers, college professors and cops all united in a mutual hatred of his new anti-labor policies. Now Bobby Jindal is galvanizing the almost 30 percent Black vote in Louisiana against him with moves that are such political kryptonite that you’d think they must’ve come right out of a Democratic playbook.

I’m not saying that Bobby Jindal is getting absolutely horrible political advice but I will say this: If you can’t find a way to convince the public to close a college that is only graduating 8 percent of it’s students then you ought to be looking for a job outside of politics.

Governor Jindal has pushed through the merger of Southern University of New Orleans, an HBCU and The University of New Orleans a majority White institution. With the skills of a blind lumberjack last December he replaced all African-American members from the 16 member state board of regents and set about a plan to ‘study’ the feasibility of combining the two colleges. Needless to say the African-American community in Louisiana wasn’t too pleased with his whitewashing of the board of regents, let alone his goal of ‘closing’ or ‘merging’ an HBCU, a trend that has become very popular amongst southern governors of late.

State Sen. Cleo fields filed a lawsuit seeking to block the ‘study’ on combining the schools and the local community was up in arms. Governor Jindal could obviously see the writing on the wall, but not fast enough to avoid running into it. He pushed out one old White guy, who’d been on the board for 14 years and appointed a Black man, surgeon Albert Sam, to be the lone Black member of the board of regents. Which would have been great, if it weren’t for the fact that Sam openly admitted that with his busy surgery schedule that he didn’t plan on attending many meetings about the SUNO / UNO merger.

Now the merger proposal has all but passed but the political fallout in the state will be felt for years to come. Students at SUNO are protesting, the state Black caucus is crying bloody racism and the 30 percent African-American population is giving Jindal the side eye just as he’s about to run for re-election.

You can’t entirely blame Jindal for his gross incompetence; he’s never seemed to be a guy that got a good measure of his own political prowess. He incorrectly viewed his 2008 election as an endorsement of GOP policies instead of a rejection of Katrina incompetence by Democrats. He bought the hype of Republican spinmeisters that he was the second coming to Ronald Reagan only to die a death of a thousand clicking remotes as he botched his Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union in 2009.

However, his tin ear in the face of both a racial and educational hot potato will likely spell doom for the 15-minute face of the Republican Party. What’s worse, his proposal isn’t entirely wrong. SUNO has an 8 percent graduation rate, the lowest of any public Historically Black College or University in the United States.

UNO has seen its attendance numbers dwindle as a result of hurricane Katrina and poor recruiting efforts. Schools performing that poorly, in a budget strapped state, need to be re-organized. Jindal’s inability to make a cogent argument about this issue, which many others have been able to do let alone the ham fisted way that he’s handled the entire controversy has turned key constituents in the state against him just like Scott Walker and John Kasich have.

But I guess those arguments were too tough to make. Those Democratic operatives are certainly doing their job, three 2012 potentials down, one to go. I’m thinking governor Chris Christie might be next.

(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor at Hiram College in Ohio.)

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