According to the National Gardening Association, based on a 2010 survey, “The average annual amount spent per household on all lawn and garden activities decreased by $81 from $444 to $363.” We have been cutting back from previous years, but that’s still a good chunk of money. In fact, my investment in my home’s landscaping is important enough that the State of Louisiana is there to protect me from the dangers of – are you ready? – illegal pruning. I mean, it’s okay for me to let just anyone cut my grass, but when it comes to fertilizing and pruning my shrubs, only a licensed professional is good enough for a Louisiana citizen. What kind of civilization would we have if the state let me hire just anyone to take care of my azaleas? That’s why Louisiana makes sure that anyone who fertilizes and prunes has a license. It might be my money, but I can’t be trusted to make that choice.
Our state leaders feel the same way about other purchases you or I might make. You know what else is a dangerous business for the consumer? Flowers. And I need protection. In 2010, The Knot, Inc. surveyed 19000 couples married that year, and on average, couples spent $2000 on florists for their weddings. With that kind of money at stake, you know our Louisiana politicos won’t let me buy flower arrangements from just anyone, because, you know, I might be swayed by the beauty and freshness of a bouquet, and not think to ask tough questions first, like about the training and credentials of the florist. That’s why Louisiana insists that only a state-licensed florist can sell me flowers. It might be my money, but I can’t be trusted to make that choice.
What about schools? The public has a big stake in making sure I do a decent job raising my kids. I put a lot of money into the venture: the U.S. Department of Agriculture in June released its 51st annual accounting of the cost of raising a child, and calculated that it costs on average $234,900, not including college. According to the report, “for the overall United States, annual child-rearing expense estimates ranged between $12,290 and $14,320 for a child in a two-child, married-couple family in the middle-income group.” And our state per-pupil spending on public K-12 education is about $10000 a year.
So you, the Louisiana taxpayer, and I, the parent – we’re each in for ten grand a year on my school-age child. If I need to be protected from untrained florists and landscapers, I’m sure the state’s not going to let me hire just anyone to teach my kids, right? Education is important, workforce development, children are the future, yadda yadda yadda. The state will certainly set minimal qualifications for the teachers, and a standard for the textbooks and teaching methods they use? The state licenses shampoo assistants, for pete’s sake – surely they’ll only let me hire licensed teachers? I can’t be trusted to make THAT kind of choice, if I can’t be trusted to buy flowers and hire gardeners? Plus, it’s not just my money now – it’s yours, too.
Ha ha ha ha ha. Right.
According to Jindal Communications Director Kyle Plotkin, “We [Jindal and his administration] trust parents to make choices because they know what’s best for their children.” And here’s Jindal himself: “We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.”
But not for their shrubbery.
And that’s why Louisiana will let me send $8000 of state and local tax money to a small privately-owned school that will sit my kid in a cubicle with a workbook to teach him that the Loch Ness Monster is real.
And demonstrate for all to see that the state administration of public education in Louisiana has become an international joke.