Many Department of Education contracts seem to be flying under the radar — Louisiana Voice | Blogger Tom Aswell looks at $1.6 million in state contracts awarded to Teach for America, and finds “built-in hidden costs” that show, among other things, the Recovery School District pays higher fees for TFA teachers than other school districts. “Contract No. 718050, a $382,500 TFA contract that began on June 1, 2012 and continues through June 30, 2014, calls for TFA to recruit 40 new first-year teachers for RSD at a fee of $4,500 per teacher, or 50 percent higher than the rate paid by other Louisiana school districts.”
Grand Jury Indicts Dozens Of Atlanta Educators Over Cheating Scandal — WWNO |
Among those indicted is former Atlanta superintendent Beverly Hall, who in 2009 was crowned the national superintendent of the year. This means that a grand jury has found there is enough evidence for a prosecutor to proceed with a criminal case against the educators. WSB-TV in Atlanta reports that 35 Atlanta Public Schools educators have been charged with racketeering and “Hall has also been charged with false statements and writing, theft by taking and false swearing.”
Washington Post “Answer Sheet” blogger isn’t the only one to wonder whether similar cheating has occurred in other cities. Before becoming editor of The Lens, Steve Steve Beatty was a watchdog editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and led the investigation that revealed the first signs of cheating. The newspaper’s continuing coverage led to a wide-ranging and damning state investigation.
Jindal’s Unconstitutional “Tim Tebow” Law Proves Louisiana Legislature Cares More About Football Than Education — CenLamar | Blogger Lamar White inspects a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that ruled against laws passed by the legislature that allowed home school students to become, effectively, ” ‘free agents’ in the lucrative world of high school football.” Until it was struck down, “the law violated the LSHAA’s own bylaws, which provide a framework for qualifying schools and students.”
Schooling Dangerously — First Things | A former homeschooling parent reviews two new books about educating children at home, which has gone “viral,” in recent years.
Changes to Mardi Gras ladders, toilets and parking all under consideration for 2014 parades — Uptown Messenger | The conversation about ladders, port-a-potty placement, and other Carnival gripes has begun early. Could this lead to actual changes in parade-viewing enforcement, rather than mere talk (and little action) from city officials?
Quality of Life Requires Compromise: Letter — NOLA DEFENDER | Sue Mobley, who is Executive Director of Sweet Home New Orleans, writes a letter to the editors about the “flawed process” of noise ordinance zoning.
“Quality of Life,” is a treacherously ambiguous term. It calls for an examination of whose definition of quality and whose life we use as a reference point. For a street musician, who has played the same corner of Royal St. for twenty years, quality of life requires an income, an audience and the right to create, on that spot, the music and culture in which this city claims to take pride.
Government & Politics
Analysis: Jindal makes tax system rewrite more difficult with ‘revenue neutral’ requirement — Associated Press | As the governor’s tax overhaul is scrutinized, more complications are revealed: “By declaring his massive tax law rewrite would be ‘revenue neutral,’ Gov. Bobby Jindal has boxed himself into a requirement that seems nearly impossible to meet and that limits negotiations with lawmakers.”
State Rep. Lopinto Files Bill To Allow JP Hospitals Ownership Change Without Public Vote — ClickJefferson.com |
Metairie State Representative Joe Lopinto (R) has filed a bill sought by the Jefferson Parish Council and Sheriff Newell Normand to allow for the sale or lease of the parish’s two public hospitals without a public vote. Normand also is Chairman of the East Jefferson General Hospital Board. Current state law prohibits the sale or lease of EJGH or West Jeff Medical Center without a public vote.
Kennedy to challenge vendor plan — The Advocate | “State Treasurer John Kennedy contends that a new electronic payment program planned by the Jindal administration usurps the duties of the Treasurer’s office.”
Our Views: Jindal’s math a shell game — Opinion — The Advocate | In a strongly-worded opinion piece, Advocate editors side with members of the Board of Regents who are troubled that a large percentage of their board’s funding comes from the Overcollections Fund.
“The “overcollections fund” is a device to allow one-time windfalls of money to be used in the operating budget, and to shift money from other accounts — recurring or not — into a fake general fund. We say “fake” because it is inherently unstable, the opposite… of the actual general fund.”
Court ruling prompts state to review juvenile sentencing laws — The Advocate | State sentencing statutes for juveniles who commit murder will be revised in the upcoming legislative session, after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled automatic life sentences for youths constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The Supremes ruled that a sentencing hearing must be held. Nearly 300 Louisiana prison inmates are potentially effected by the upcoming statute revisions, and will have sentencing, the oldest of these former juveniles is 71 years old.
Live blog: Consent decree hearing regarding Orleans Parish Prison — The Lens | In his continuing coverage of this morning’s hearing about the federal consent decree for the city jail, criminal justice reporter Tom Gogola tweeted: “Prison expert says OPP suffers from poor staffing, lousy classification, lots of weapons. Could be worst jail he’s seen in 35 years.”
Sinkhole shines light on failings in state regulations — The Advocate | “The Assumption Parish sinkhole, which regulators say was caused by an ‘unprecedented’ failure of a man-made cavern deep underground, has exposed gaps in state rules governing how industry uses salt domes.”
EPA’s Push For More Ethanol Could Be Too Little, Too Late — WWNO | “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon issue a final ruling that aims to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15. This move could come just as widespread support for ethanol, which is made from corn, appears to be eroding.” The political reaction to these new ethanol mandates is worth following, since ethanol subsidies “[ensure] large amounts of fertilizer will be used to farm large amounts of corn,” according to scientists who have studied the Gulf’s oxygen-depleted “dead zone.”
Plaquemines after Hurricane Isaac: Flood regulations may spell communities’ death knell — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | If you didn’t see Benjamin Alexander-Bloch’s series about the conundrums faced by Plaquemines Parish residents after Hurricane Isaac, take a look. Part two of the “Land and Loss” is titled “Rolling dice as storms could wash them away.” Part three: “Elevation heights, escalating insurance, leave nowhere to run.”