[Editor’s Note: Following are letters to the editor submitted by readers unhappy by Senate Bill 1, which proposes to change the name of The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in honor of late the Jimmy D. Long Sr., one of the school’s founders. The letters were submitted via the "We Want to Hear from You" link found at the bottom of all stories at theind.com.]
Much ink has been spilled over the last few months on the state of our democracy — how political discourse is dead, how the people are no longer represented, how the system is broken. Unfortunately for all of us, I’m here to spill just a bit more.
I’ve had the opportunity to watch our democracy in action over the last few weeks in the Louisiana Legislature. I’ve taken part in the process, lobbying my voice amongst hundreds of others in the fight over SB 1, a bill that would rename The Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts — my alma mater.
At this point, I’m not going to litigate the merits of the bill — the alumni are united in opposition to it for good reasons. What’s important now is to illuminate to my fellow citizens how this process played out.
Democracy is supposed to be for the people. It’s our government, organized according to our wishes, and enacted by our representatives. They are there to serve us, to carry out our agenda. Let me be clear: that is far from what I experienced.
SB 1 passed swimmingly through both the Senate and House against the express wishes of the people. The constituents it affects — namely, the students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni of LSMSA — have made it clear we don’t want this bill. We have collectively spent hours testifying in committee, have sent thousands of emails, and called hundreds of times.
Through all of that action, how many votes did we sway? Just four — two senators on the floor and two representatives in committee.
Of the entire Legislature, is there really only four principled amongst you?
Watching this unfold has been stunning. It should be the easiest vote in the world. It’s left me disillusioned, frustrated and disconcerted. Two senators used their position to push a bill upon the people — people who don’t want it. And everyone — all but four — ignored their constituents in order to gratify the ego of their colleagues.
I’m deeply perturbed by how this has process has played out. It’s a gross abuse of power by the authors and a callous, willful disregard of constituent wishes by everyone else. The system broke for SB 1, but there’s one vote left. Will anyone join these four brave men and women?
Logan Leger, Baton Rouge
My daughter just graduated from LSMSA this year and for her to come to me so upset I knew this was something that was very important to her. Not only her but her group of friends who have become her family while attending LSMSA.
The students, board, administrators and parents are all very upset about the proposed name change. Why mess with something that isn't broken? This school and its faculty and students are an exceptional mix of caring people who are very passionate about their school. Present at this year's graduation alone were alums from a few years ago to 20 plus years ago representing several countries, it's very awe inspiring to see such pride in a school that my daughter will be tied to forever; see LSMSA isn't just a school — it's a family, name and all.
I'm still praying for this bill to fail, there is a lot of pride that comes with alumni telling of attending LSMSA.
Kristin Fuselier, Walker