Gov. Bobby Jindal and House Speaker Chuck Kleckley have become targets of recall efforts as a result of Jindal’s controversial proposed public education revamp.
“We are just fed up,” said Calcasieu Parish teacher Angie Bonvillain, one of the five veteran classroom teachers who started the grassroots recall effort.
Bonvillain said no one is listening to teachers who know more about what’s needed to improve public education than Jindal and others ramrodding the changes through the Legislature.
“When they would not listen, after repeated emails and phone calls, we became frustrated, especially when we’re the ones who voted them into the office they presently hold,” Bonvillain said.
“We agree that reform is needed, but we do not agree that the reform should come about by gutting present-day public schools,” she said.
The recall drives come as Jindal and legislative leaders continue to fast-track legislation that seeks to end teacher tenure as it is currently structured and move taxpayer dollars from public education into subsidies to send children attending failed public schools to private and parochial schools.
Asked if he were concerned about the recall effort Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, did not directly address the question.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the children of the state of Louisiana. It’s about improving education in the state,” Kleckley said.
Recall organizers face a high hurdle on getting sufficient signatures on petitions required to force recall elections, especially when a statewide elected official is involved.
No one has ever successfully gathered enough signatures to get a recall election against a statewide or parishwide official in Louisiana.
Petitions in the case of Jindal must be signed by one-third of the state’s 2.86 million registered voters within 180 days.
In the case of Kleckley, organizers must get the signatures of one-third of the registered voters in his election district. According to the elections website, there are about 28,000 registered voters in Kleckley’s district.
Bonvillain is chairman of the Jindal recall effort. Brenda Romero is chairman of the Kleckley drive. Romero did not respond to requests for interview.
“The recall petition has taken on a life of its own. It no longer is a local effort. It is statewide at this time,” Bonvillain said. “We could not have expected the reaction or the number of people who have materialized that are willing to put in their own time to see us succeed.”
Bonvillain said recall organizers are working with a media consultant who is advising the group on “how to spread the word and get the signatures.”
“The reaction has bene so huge and so positive that we have trouble keeping copies of the petition on hand. People are calling us at home in the evenings to drop by to sign, pick up petitions to pass out themselves, and have offered support in many other ways, including financial help,” Bonvillain said.
No only teachers are signing the petitions, Bonvillain said. “There are other groups who are disgruntled with the governor and the legislators,” she said.
Bonvillain said the group has a central point for petition collection and will soon have a post office box so people can mail petitions in. A website is also under construction where people can get information and download a copy of the petition.
Jindal has been a prior target of recall efforts. The new one is the sixth effort to try to oust him.
The first efforts came over his initial refusal to veto legislation that would have doubled legislators’ base pay approved during the 2008 regular legislative session. Jindal had been subject of angry criticism by bloggers, callers and emailers as well as protests over his stance. He ultimately vetoed the legislation after promising legislators he’d sign it if they approved it. The recall petition effort died.
In 2011, a recall drive launched by Ron Ceasar, of Opelousas, fizzled. The full-time doctorate student at Southern University said he was angry with cuts levied on public colleges and health-care services in Louisiana.