St. George Vote Is Really a Showdown Between Liberals and Conservatives

By Woody Jenkins, Editor, St. George Leader – Baton Rouge

There is really no mystery about whether the proposed City of St. George will be a success, and there is certainly no mystery about whether the proposed Southeast school district will be a success.

We don’t have to guess whether incorporating a new city and creating a new school system in this parish can work. We have real-life models right here in East Baton Rouge Parish — the City of Central and the independent school districts in Central and Zachary.

The City of Central (pop. 28,000) was created by the voters in 2005. It is now celebrating its 14th birthday. Central is the only fully-privatized city in the State of Louisiana and one of the very few in America. It was created on a 21st century model — not a 19th century model — and it is working beautifully. It has only three city employees (compare Hammond, pop. 20,000, with 325 city employees). Central contracts out everything and runs the city on 25 percent of the cost of the City of Hammond. Central has a $1-2 million a year surplus and $40 million in the bank.

The Zachary Community School System began in 2003. It has had the No. 1 school system in the state for 15 of the past 15 years. The demographics are 50-50 black-white.

The Central Community School System was created in 2007 and quickly became the No. 2 school system in the state.

Central has no industry and no large businesses except a Wal-Mart. Yet, it is a model of fiscal integrity and sound business judgment.

Is there any doubt that St. George, which has perhaps the highest per capita income in the state, will be able to have a successful city?

No, there is no doubt. The opponents don’t really say that. They raise baseless fears. Their arguments are absurd. “We want to all stay together!” they chant, as though the unincorporated areas of the southeast part of the parish were somehow part of the City of Baton Rouge and were “breaking away” from the City of Baton Rouge.

The unincorporated areas are not part of the City of Baton Rouge, and they are not breaking away. They are forming their own city at their own expense, in order to improve their lot, just as anyone has the right to do under Louisiana law.

On the other hand, the proposed Southeast independent school system would greatly strengthen public education by bringing 10,000 or more students back into the public schools. Many of them would be white, and the proposed Southeast school system is projected to be 60-40 white-black.

But that is bad. The opponents of St. George think the current East Baton Rouge Parish School System, which is a one-race school system (nearly 90 percent black), is wonderful, but a racially diverse school system like St. George will be is somehow a great evil.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!