Louisiana leads U.S. in grading teacher training, but report cards are inconclusive — The Lens | The Hechinger Report’s Sarah Carr digs into the state’s program to evaluate teacher-training programs. “Following Louisiana’s lead, policy makers in a growing number of states are evaluating programs based on the test scores of the students their graduates teach.” But it’s hard to know how effective such evaluations are, due to small sample sizes and the varying standards among teaching colleges.
Third time no charm; Bill to repeal ‘science act’ fails – WDSU | For the third year in a row, a bill to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act failed to win approval of a state Senate committee. The article notes that “Zack Kopplin, a 19-year-old college student, has led the campaign to repeal that law.” Kopplin regards the science act as a trojan horse that will lead to versions of creationism being taught in science class. Yesterday, Kopplin wrote an open letter urging Gov. Bobby Jindal to change his mind and support the LSEA’s repeal. No dice.
Jindal-backed voucher program grows by 3,000 – Associated Press | The state’s controversial private school voucher program has grown 60 percent in a year. The Louisiana Supreme Court will hear an appeal about the program’s constitutionality after a district court judge ruled last year that public funds couldn’t be routed to private schools.
Senate Education Committee vote was a foregone conclusion; charges of DOE test data fraud was huge political bombshell — Louisiana Voice | Blogger Tom Aswell reports on some strong testimony at the Capitol:
Where others within the Department of Education (DOE) have alluded privately to data suppression and manipulation of school performance scores that artificially inflated graduation rates, [Herb] Bassett, a band director who said he was “highly qualified” to teach math, publicly charged White, BESE and DOE of misrepresenting test scores and then covering up the lie by removing the data from the Louisiana Believes website. ‘This is data suppression,’ Bassett said.
Marijuana possession sentences would be lessened under bill approved by House panel — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, advocates reduced penalties for those convicted of marijuana possession. The article describes resistance from district attorneys, who fear the bill would strain prosecutorial resources by allowing “those already serving sentences for possession to seek ‘reconsideration’ from a judge to shorten their prison time. … Badon said that was a small price to pay.”
State Police troopers who tackled teens in French Quarter are let off easy in state Senate committee hearing — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | An interesting standard for law enforcement conduct is presented:
The controversial incident has raised concerns about the excessive use of force by officers and potential racist behavior, but [State Police Superintendent Mike] Edmonson said his troopers acted appropriately under the circumstances. “You don’t see us striking an individual, you don’t see us hitting an individual, you don’t see us kicking an individual,” Edmonson said.
How a heavy police presence in high-crime neighborhoods hurts democracy — MinnPost | “The U.S. practice of canceling the voting rights of felons, coupled with the unusually high level of incarceration, removes a large (and disproportionately black) number of citizens from the rolls of potential voters. The numbers are big enough to affect the outcome of many close elections.”
Government & Politics
Zurik: S&WB’s overtime policy means millions down the drain – FOX 8 WVUE | Three years ago, some employees at the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans earned more in overtime than their base salaries. Despite promises from the board to change the curious pay structure, investigative reporter Lee Zurik says, “Our research shows the overtime has not just continued; in some ways, it’s gotten worse.”
I-Team: Orleans coroner owes hefty sums to other parishes, lawsuit filed — WDSU | “The office of Orleans Parish coroner Dr. Frank Minyard owes some of its counterparts tens of thousands of dollars, and one of them is taking legal action to collect.”
Landrieu vetoes Council ordinance on food truck regs, citing legal problems — The Lens | Yesterday, the mayor’s office suddenly revealed that it has constitutional objections to the City Council ordinance easing strictures on food truck operations in the city.
Road Home money promised a year ago still has not arrived — WWLTV.com | “A year after the Obama administration’s top housing official came to New Orleans to take in Jazz Fest and announce millions of additional dollars to help homeowners finish their Katrina rebuilding, the money is still stuck in Washington.”
Jean-Paul Villere: The End of an Era — Uptown Messenger | The Ace Hardware on Oak Street has closed. “What about the yesteryear hardware icons that hold fast and [are] peppered throughout the rest of the city? Off the top of my head I’m thinking of Freret Hardware, Clement Hardware, and cousin to Oak St the Magazine St Ace Hardware? Are they next?”
“Restoration” Projects Announced: BP Boondoggles Beginning? — Gulf Restoration Network | Remember when post-Katrina GO Zone tax credits subsidized construction of luxury football condos in Tuscaloosa? Using coastal restoration money to build a lodge and meeting center to promote Alabama tourism doesn’t seem much better.
Noose tightens around NALCO’s neck as more damning info on BP, Corexit surfaces — Stuart H. Smith | On his blog, environmental lawyer Stuart Smith writes about disturbing new research that links the fumes from Corexit oil dispersant to lung damage. “In layman’s term, breathing Corexit — in the manner of many workers who were sent out into the Gulf in 2010 to clean up the oil spill without the proper protective clothing or respiratory apparatus — leads to serious risk of lung damage.”