Better Government.  Local Control.

ST. GEORGE, LOUISIANA


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Response to PBS Frontline 'Documentary'

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
PBS Frontline will air a "documentary" tonight at 9:00 cst titled "Separate and Unequal" centered around the ongoing effort to create a new city and school system in East Baton Rouge Parish. The Frontline episode portrays this movement as one “motivated by race and class,” and it continually focuses on the desegregation lawsuit that lasted for decades in this parish.

We feel it is unfortunate Frontline has chosen to do so, as its focus insures an inaccurate portrayal of the struggle taking place in southern East Baton Rouge Parish.

This movement has NOTHING to do with class or race. It has everything to do with parents (black and white, rich and poor) who are fed up with the current education, or lack thereof, in the public schools in East Baton Rouge Parish. Parents who will do whatever it takes to give their children a chance. In fact, the St. George School System would be the definition of diverse, as it will most likely be very close to 50% Caucasian and 50% African American.

It must be noted that the primary opposition of this movement comes from the current power structure in the City of Baton Rouge, who enjoys spending your tax dollars, and a small group of magnet-school parents. We do not disagree that EBR’s gifted-and-talented and magnet programs are outstanding. But what about every other student who doesn't hit the lottery to get in one of these programs? Shouldn't every child be educated equally? The opposition of this movement is the status quo and they are happy with things the way they are.

We agreed to participate in this documentary, which was sold as a film about education reform, to have our side of the story told. While we were given that ability, the entire narrative is spun in a way that inaccurately portrays this movement.

Making this movement about class and race is simply lazy. This line of argument fits into an easy narrative, which is convenient for writers, editors and producers--their audience has seen this movie already, it's just a matter of plugging in the characters and plot points. We hope that most people will see through the rhetoric and see this effort for what it is... parents wanting better for their children and an unincorporated area of the parish that wants local control and representation.

We look forward to the day when people stop focusing on the color of someone’s skin or how much money they make and focus on the character of the individual. But then again, that probably wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, wouldn't sell nearly as many papers or generate nearly as many viewers.

Our story has never changed. All we have ever asked for is that the people of this area be given the chance to vote on their future. Pass or fail, they deserve that right.