Teacher’s arrest in Louisiana: Another day, another outrage
12 January 2018
What could be more “American” than a local school board town hall meeting? The type of scene portrayed in a Norman Rockwell painting—democracy in action, an opportunity for ordinary citizens to air their complaints and have their voices heard, the embodiment of “civic duty” and accountability. In today’s America, however, Rockwell, witnessing the fate of Louisiana teacher Deyshia Hargrave, might be driven to adopt more the style of Francisco Goya or Hieronymus Bosch.
At a school board meeting held this past Monday, the courageous teacher at Rene A. Rost Middle School in southern Louisiana’s Vermilion Parish had the temerity to question, with calm but determined insistence, why the local school board had voted to give the district’s superintendent, Jerome Puyau, a $38,000 raise on top of his $110,000 salary.
Hargrave, an English language arts instructor who was named the 2015-16 teacher of the year at her middle school, noted that the decision was a “slap in the face to the teachers, the cafeteria workers and any support staff” who are “not getting a dime.” Class sizes in the district have jumped from 21 to 29 students in recent years, she noted, while teachers have not received a pay raise in a decade.
Like so many school districts, Vermilion Parish, deep in Louisiana’s “oil patch,” faces a multimillion-dollar deficit, drained of resources from spending cuts and slumping tax revenues. Of the pay raise, Hargrave asked, “How are you going to take that money? Because it is basically taking it out of the pockets of teachers.”
Hargrave was ordered to shut up. When she protested, a deputy marshal, under the instructions of the school board president, told her to leave….