Creator of teacher assessment tool says La. adopted flawed system — The News Star | The developer of a teacher observation system contends the state Department of Education’s revisions to the evaluation tool may be problematic. Last year the state responded to complaints from educators who said the original 22-component system was too complicated. They simplified the framework to five components, and now teachers say the revised system is incomplete. The article notes that under the new Compass evaluation system, “scores from classroom observations account for 50 percent of a teacher’s overall score. The remaining 50 percent is directly related to student performance.” (via Southern Education Desk)
State superintendent John White appeals to Lycée teachers to stay next year — The Lens | Two weeks after CODOFIL told the school that it couldn’t promise to recruit teachers unless at least 10 stay at the school, John White listened to their concerns and asked them to remain. Marta Jewson reports: “White promised the teachers on Wednesday that change is coming. A new chief executive will be in place by May, he said. The face of Lycée’s governing board will also change, he said.”
School just got tougher: Louisiana raises bar for student testing this spring — natchezdemocrat.com | An overview of Louisiana’s implementation of the Common Core curriculum, a national, standardized measuring stick that the state adopted in 2010 and plans to have fully installed in schools by the 2013-2014 academic year. Changes will include more challenging content on Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (LEAP) tests, which has prompted schools to order new materials in preparation. The article notes that the state is “one step ahead” of Mississippi, which intends to implement Common Core curricula a year later, in 2014-15.
Oprah Winfrey’s shameful “Blackboard Wars”: Where “Cops” meets “Dangerous Minds” – The Root DC Live – The Washington Post | Natalie Hopkinson fumes about the controversial docu-series profiling changes at John McDonogh Senior High and says that the show privileges exaggerated melodrama at the expense of substance.
Cement in BP Macondo well never dried, leading to the blowout, expert witness testifies — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune
The cement pumped into the BP Macondo well a day before it blew out on April 20, 2010, was not given enough time to “set,” or harden, before a negative pressure test was run that allowed oil and natural gas to travel up the drill pipe to the surface, where it exploded aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, an oil well cementing expert testified Wednesday.
River Bend Nuclear Station receives good news from federal regulatory commission — NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune | The Nuclear Regulatory Commission informed operators of the River Bend Nuclear Station that they had responded adequately to procedural compliance issues, so it would require less stringent federal oversight. The energy plant is located about 30 miles south of Baton Rouge.
Jindal sidesteps questions about sinkhole visit — The Advocate | At a rare press conference, Gov. Bobby Jindal did not directly answer repeated questions about whether he would visit the sinkhole in Bayou Corne that has displaced nearby residents.
The [sinkhole visitation] question was posed a second and third time about when residents can expect to see him. The governor repeated the same response without addressing when or if he might visit the sinkhole evacuees. “Again, we’ll continue to work with those agencies to make sure we hold the company [Texas Brine] accountable,” Jindal said. The governor’s press secretary, Sean Lansing, then changed the topic of the questioning by calling on a reporter who had not raised his hand. When the reporter expressed puzzlement at his name being called, Lansing called on a different reporter.
Political blogger Robert Mann has a theory: “Jindal is really powerless to help these people. His aides may well be telling him that the residents of Bayou Corne will never be allowed to return to live in their homes. Let’s be clear: Bobby Jindal will not be the one to deliver that message.”
Government & Politics
Bridge tolls: The Lens is credited with exposing disenfranchisement of voters — The Lens | Tyler Bridges’ November story explained the provisional ballot issues of the Crescent City Connection toll extension vote, which ultimately led to a rare judicial nullification of the election that extended tolls on the bridge for the next 20 years.
The Lens was “the first one who printed it [the provisional ballot issue],” said state Rep. Pat Connick, R-Marrero, the best-known toll opponent. “You were at the forefront for getting the story out.”
Mayor Landrieu reacts to reversal of tolls on Crescent City Connection – Mitch Landrieu YouTube | A short video clip from an interview with Landrieu, who claims the lack of tolls on the Crescent City Connection prior to the May 4 special election will result in heavier traffic, light outages, and law enforcement challenges on the bridge. All of these things, he argues, will make it “much harder for economic development.” (via @skooks)
Lee Zurik Investigation: FBI investigating St. Tammany coroner – FOX 8 WVUE | Following numerous media reports, now the feds have asked for a copy of every expenditure made by the coroner since 2007. According to Zurik, among other things, “the federal government wants information related to an airplane Galvan owns. … Galvan mostly uses it to travel to the Alabama Gulf Coast, where he owns a condo.”
Slashed budget leaves hundreds of indigent defendants lawyerless — The Lens | Tom Gogola reports: “Draconian cuts in the budget for lawyers who represent indigent defendants have come back to haunt the Orleans Parish criminal justice system. Upwards of 500 indigent defendants may have been locked up without the benefit of an assigned defense attorney over the past year, according to a brief filed today in the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. The brief charges that ‘many indigent people facing serious criminal charges in New Orleans do not have attorneys.'”
Lindsey Graham: Hurricane Victims Need Assault Weapons To Shoot ‘Roaming Gangs’ — ThinkProgress | U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says AR-15 assault rifles would be useful to repel roaming gangs in disaster areas, and he used the Katrina aftermath in New Orleans as an example. (Graham didn’t mention whether such rifles would repel police who come to seize citizens’ guns in such a scenario.)
Assaulted Downtown WWL – AM870 — Scoot Blog | Radio host describes his recent mugging.
Lower 9th Ward Feels ‘Sweet Burden’ of New Construction | NOLA DEFENDER – Mitch Landrieu presented a foursome of new construction projects in the 9th Ward and told residents to “hold off” on criticisms about the traffic congestion and noise that will result. “In church style redirect, he called the projects a ‘sweet burden’ on the community.”
Citizens Speak Up at Streetcar Expansion Meeting | NOLA DEFENDER – “Last night’s RTA community meeting regarding the proposed Rampart streetcar line received a mixed response from attendees, who raised concerns about noise, construction, crime, traffic, and other issues.”