Core Controversy: The Political Debate Over Classroom Standards — Southern Education Desk | This three-part, in-depth series explores the adoption of Common Core standards for public schools, an effort to impose consistent and rigorous education standards nationwide. Some educators worry that Common Core “will further increase the use of high-stakes tests, boosting pressure to cheat or to turn schools into test-prep factories where standards become curriculum.”
Other critics, such as conservative pundit Quin Hillyer, argue it is an overbearing, top-down approach: “Common Core stands as an unwitting invitation for the federal government to dictate local curricular choices, with potentially objectionable results.”
Six school buildings herald new era in New Orleans — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | Local officials promised new or renovated schools by 2016, and the early progress is encouraging. The article takes a look at the “six new school buildings [that] opened their doors in the fall — Crocker and Woodson in Central City, Fannie C. Williams and Osborne in eastern New Orleans, and Parkview and Bienville in Gentilly.” Four other schools are now under construction, and numerous renovations, both large and small, are underway. Click here for a detailed list.
DeMythdefying LDOE’s Myth-directions and Myth-information about MFP — Crazy Crawfish’s Blog | A pseudonymous education blogger writes a point-by-point rebuttal of a Louisiana Department of Education fact sheet on public education funding. The Crazy Crawfish claims: “John White just started calling [the Minimum Foundation Program formula] a ‘block grant’ this year, while it is nothing of the sort.”
Gentrifying the parade route — Library Chronicles | “Jefferson Parish Carnival is having an identity crisis. It is less popular and less sure of itself that it has been in decades and this is a direct reflection of the decline of the suburban ideal writ large.”
Jean-Paul Villere: Where hipsters dwell — Uptown Messenger | “The tried-and-true recipe of gentrification requires a heaping two cups of unwashed hipster before a neighborhood can be cooked for mass consumption, and ladies and gentlemen, you may now safely stick a fork in Bywater. She’s done.”
Hijacked Highway — New Orleans Tribune | Who benefits most if the Claiborne overpass is torn down?
Talk of possibly removing the elevated I-10 along Claiborne to achieve economic and social revitalization of the area strikes some as odd, if not disingenuous, considering the elevated expressway was erected despite the protest of mostly Black residents and business owners who foretold that plan would signal a downturn for their communities.
Government & Politics
Brown, Vitter Bill to Address Too Big to Fail – NYTimes.com | This is real bipartisanship on an important issue: “Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and David Vitter, R-Louisiana, have a new bill that would make banks keep much higher levels of capital. Not surprisingly, representatives for the financial industry are already claiming that such a requirement would ruin the economy.” More likely, the big banks are fear-mongering because the higher reserve requirements proposed by Vitter and Brown would eat into their risky profit-taking.
Jindal won’t seek to follow Arkansas on Medicaid – SFGate | “Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration announced Tuesday that it won’t seek to replicate a private insurance Medicaid expansion model like Arkansas, despite requests from Louisiana lawmakers to consider it. Jindal’s interim health secretary, Kathy Kliebert, told the Senate Health and Welfare Committee that the federal guidelines outlined for the Arkansas proposal don’t offer enough flexibility and leave too much uncertainty about future financing and regulations.”
Mary Landrieu Supports Gay Marriage — New York Magazine | Although Landrieu says she personally believes that “people should love who they love and marry who they want to marry,” she says “her obligation rests with the people of Louisiana who elected her.”
Sheriff Gusman wonders if criticism is race-based – FOX 8 WVUE | In a recent interview, embattled Sheriff Marlin Gusman implies criticisms of his oversight of the city jail may have racial motivations. Key quote: “The only way I could explain how someone would question my leadership, my ability has to be because they have a different agenda. They have to be looking at something different than just the record. Maybe they’re looking at the person that’s there. Maybe they’re looking at the way that person looks.” Or maybe Gusman’s in hot water and is getting desperate. Take a look at the video of the interview and judge for yourself.
Even with guns, all politics is local – CNN.com | “Despite the president’s aggressive support for expanding background checks for gun purchasers, [Sen. Mary] Landrieu said she has not decided whether she’ll support a Senate bill on the matter.” The U.S. Senate vote to break a Republican filibuster and set new gun rules will take place this afternoon.
Justice Department declines to make public its investigation of U.S. attorney’s office, for now — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The key words in that headline are “for now.” According to the article, the letter the T-P received from the Department of Justice “hints that ethical or criminal charges may arise from the probe” into the local U.S. Attorney office.
Over 18 Months, Nation’s First Privately Owned State Prison Has Declined Rapidly — ThinkProgress | Conditions at OPP might be abysmal, but the nation’s first privately owned state prison, which has operated for only 18 months, is no great shakes. Pitched as a cost-cutting measure, the state of Ohio sold the prison to a private firm. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s similar plan to privatize three state prisons was defeated in 2011.
New research indicates Mississippi River diversions could harm marshland — The Lens | When it comes to engineering solutions to reclaim the coast, the complications seem endless. This time around, there are worries that pollution in sediment-rich river water might hurt marshes, rather than restore them. Coastal czar Garrett Graves “dismissed the latest findings as too little, too late to apply to the state’s Master Plan.” See Bob Marshall’s companion video segment on FOX 8. It’s The Lens’ first TV news package— tell us what you think!
Offshore extension bill dovetails into red snapper issue — DailyComet.com | Sen. David Vitter introduced the Offshore Fairness Act to expand Louisiana’s jurisdiction in the Gulf of Mexico from three to 10 miles, to put it on par with Florida and Texas. The article notes that the increased jurisdiction might increase additional energy revenues for the state. Also, Vitter’s bill relates to “the red snapper debate that has been simmering chiefly on the state level over the past couple years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has incrementally been shrinking Louisiana’s recreational red snapper seasons from 194 days in 2004 to just nine for 2013.”
Storm system draws cheers and a few jeers near coast – Tri-Parish Times | Even residents in relatively higher locations that rarely flood have “bought in,” literally, to the long-planned Morganza-to-the-Gulf flood control project. Terrebone Parish jumpstarted the effort by passing a $100 million bond. Residents interviewed in the article generally believe the improvements will make them safer and drier.