Black Caucus Calls on House Speaker to Remove Education Committee Chairman
Members of the Louisiana Legislature's Black Caucus want the House Speaker Clay Schexnayder to remove the chairman of the House Education Committee from his post.
Rep. Ray Garofalo (R-Chalmette) proposed a bill that would have banned the teaching of “divisive concepts” about race and sex in Louisiana schools, colleges, and universities. The committee voluntarily deferred the bill, but a vote to kill the bill outright died by a 7-7 vote. This allows Garofalo to resubmit the bill for consideration later in the session.
“This bill is about equality - not racial equity," Rep. Garofalo said last week in a statement he emailed to Louisiana news organizations. "This bill addresses the growing concern of what many are calling the indoctrination of our children through racist and sexist programs in our schools' education curricula and policies.”
The bill received pushback from both the Black Legislative Caucus and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The Black Caucus's calls to have Rep. Garofalo removed from his leadership post came after an exchange he had with a fellow education committee member during his testimony.
"What is a larger course of academic instruction?" Rep. Stephanie Hilferty (R-New Orleans) asked Rep. Garofalo in an attempt to have him clarify the intent of his bill.
"If you're having a discussion on--whatever the case may be, on slavery--then, you can talk about everything dealing with slavery--the good, the bad, and the ugly," Rep. Garofalo responded.
"There's no good to slavery, though," Rep. Hilferty retorted.
"You're right," Rep. Garofalo replied. "I didn't mean to imply that. I don't believe that, and I know that that's the case. I'm using 'good, bad, ugly' as a generic way of saying you can teach any factually based anything."
But it’s an exchange with between Garofalo and fellow Republican Stephanie Hilferty that led to the calls for his removal as chair.
In a press release, Black Caucus Leaders condemned Rep. Garofalo and called for his ouster from the committee chairmanship.
“An apology is not enough,” Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), Black Legislative Caucus chairman said. “The defense of systemic racism throughout our country is unarguably an issue, and the language of this proposal alone is enough to offend those of us working toward change.”
Garofalo later took to the House floor to say his comment was taken out of context and to blame the media for making him look bad.
Here is the 100-second clip of the discussion between Reps. Garofalo and Hilferty including Garofalo's remarks and Hilferty's response.
Here is the full nine-and-a-half-minute question-and-answer session between Reps. Garofalo and Hilferty.