Wednesday, Oct. 23

Wednesday, Oct. 23

Oregon Health Plan study dispels Medicaid expansion myths; State superintendent plans to ease consequences from teacher evaluations; State senator seeks to scrap Tulane legislative scholarship program; and Grambling football boycott spotlights higher education cuts. $43,150 – The value of the one-year Tulane legislative scholarships that are awarded by each of Louisiana’s 144 state lawmakers. (Source: The Advocate)

Oregon Health Plan study dispels Medicaid expansion myths
A new study by researchers from Harvard, MIT and the National Bureau of Economic Research refutes the idea, popular in some conservative circles, that Medicaid benefits diminish peoples’ interest in getting a job or earning more money. The study looks at data from Oregon, which in 2008 used a lottery system to extend Medicaid coverage to a group of low-income adults. Because the population was picked at random, it has allowed researchers to study the way Medicaid affects people’s health and economic well-being. As the Portland Business Journal reports: The study found that people newly covered by the Oregon Health Plan during a 2008 expansion of the program did not enter or leave the workforce any more often than peers without health insurance. The researchers also found little difference in the amount of pay the new Medicaid recipients received…. The findings poke a hole in a common argument against expanding Medicaid, that the income ceiling for Medicaid eligibility could discourage people from getting a job or trying to earn more through advancement.

State superintendent plans to ease consequences from teacher evaluations
Louisiana Education Superintendent John White told a room full of teachers he plans to ease the consequences of teacher evaluations during the first year of the new Common Core standards, which set math and English benchmarks for each grade. White said the new standards have caused stress among teachers, and that educators need more time to adjust to the new curriculum. Many teachers say they have been working overtime with little help to meet the demands of Common Core. Half of a teacher’s evaluation – which ultimately determines his or her ability to acquire tenure – depends on how students perform on tests. The first test for Louisiana students is this December, and many teachers do not know what it will look like.

State senator seeks to scrap Tulane legislative scholarship program
Tulane University’s legislative scholarship program, which allows every Louisiana legislator to award a one-year scholarship worth an estimated $43,150 to the private university each year, has faced increasing scrutiny since an investigation The Advocate and WWL-TV found state Rep. Harold Ritchie, D-Bogalusa, has given his scholarship for the past two years to a son of St. Tammany Parish District Attorney Walter Reed. Now, state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, says he will propose legislation in the upcoming fiscal year to scrap the program. While Claitor does not think this charge will be successful, he says he will also push for the scholarships to come with a requirement that recipients perform public service in Louisiana after graduation.

Grambling football boycott spotlights higher education cuts
Louisiana colleges and universities have been hard hit by budget cuts for several years, dating to the start of the economic downturn in 2008. But it took a boycott by the Grambling State University football team – which refused to play its scheduled game against Jackson State last Saturday – for the issue to make national news. As the AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports, Grambling President Frank Pogue “said he’s used the national attention Grambling has received as a way to highlight campus academic and facility needs and that the complaints lodged by football players about inadequate facilities are symptomatic of larger financial troubles on campus.

The university, like all public colleges around Louisiana, has been hit with repeated budget cuts from the state since 2008. Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal have stripped $690 million in state funding from higher education, a 48 percent reduction. Tuition increases have only partially filled the gap.

$43,150 – The value of the one-year Tulane legislative scholarships that are awarded by each of Louisiana’s 144 state lawmakers. (Source: The Advocate)