Area educators, armed with recall petitions, descend on Baton Rouge

By By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — While about 1,200 people stood outside the Capitol building Wednesday to oppose the state’s public education

reform efforts, a group of Calcasieu Parish teachers sought signatures for a petition to recall Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Brenda Romero, a teacher at Barbe High School, said there were two tables set up — one where people could sign a petition,

and another where people could take a petition home to gather additional signatures. She said the response was positive.

“When we got here, people were waiting on us,” Romero said. “They’ve been thanking us.”

Andrea McFarlin, an AP English teacher

at Barbe, said teachers, students and parents stood in line to sign the

petition. She

said she is confident they can collect the 940,000-plus signatures

required for a recall — one-third of the 2.86 million registered

voters in Louisiana.

“I don’t think we thought it would ever happen, but we’re amazed with the response we’ve gotten,” McFarlin said. “It’s giving

us a voice.”

Holly Peterson, a ninth-grade English teacher at Barbe, said she has received calls and emails from people wanting petitions

for their areas.

“There’s been a wide need and desire to be a part of it,” she said.

Lucie Mesuch, a math teacher at W.W. Lewis Middle School in Sulphur, signed the petition to recall Jindal, saying he is “using

teachers as political pawns.”

Courtney George, a student at Louisiana State University, also signed the petition. A graduate of Baton Rouge High School,

she said she opposes the reform plan.

A similar effort to recall House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, is “not going to be as difficult as people think

it is,” Peterson said. A recall would require signatures from one-third of the voters in his district.

“I think a lot of people are charged up, not just teachers,” she said. “I think he should be worried. I feel that we’re holding

him accountable to his job.”

Romero said they have received 12 petitions with about 500 signatures altogether. She said there are several petitions that

have yet to be returned. Recall supporters have until Sept. 22 to collect and submit signatures.

Peterson said her biggest problem with the reform effort is putting private funds toward private or parochial schools. She

said the legislation does nothing but “vilify educators.”

“Our government has chosen to point the finger at public educators as being the problem,” she said. “And there’s lots that

contribute to that problem.”

Mesuch said she initially supported Jindal, but she changed her opinion after educators were not given a chance to voice their

opinion on the reform before it was filed.

Mesuch’s son, Stephen, accompanied her to the rally. A 11-year-old fifth-grade student at T.S. Cooley Elementary, Stephen

said it is “unfair how teachers are held responsible if students do their homework.”