Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014

Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014

Louisiana workers 'inadequate and under-prepared'; Nevers to propose constitutional amendments to expand Medicaid; Cost of defending voucher program against legal challenges reaches $770,000; LSU graduation rate at an all-time high; and School reforms receive mixed reviews. $770,000 – The amount Louisiana is paying two law firms to defend the school voucher program in court. (Source:

Louisiana workers ‘inadequate and under-prepared’
The state has slashed funding for higher education to its lowest level since the 1950s, and cut $212 per student from K-12 funding, and now, the most powerful business lobby in the state is speaking out about the consequences. According to, a new report by the Louisiana Association of Business says Louisiana needs to invest more in education and workforce training in order to meet the demands of a predicted industry boom in the state. “Noting the continued efforts of the Jindal administration to entice business and industry to the state, the report says Louisiana’s ‘inadequate and under-prepared workforce’ won’t be able to fill the jobs brought by firms interested in Louisiana if patterns continue.” But LBP Director Jan Moller told the newspaper that improving the quality of Louisiana’s workforce will mean restoring some of the dollars that have been lost in recent years.

Nevers to propose constitutional amendments to expand Medicaid
State Sen. Ben Nevers said he will move forward on the fight to provide health coverage to 400,000 low-income Louisianans by proposing two constitutional amendments. Nevers, D-Bogalusa, said he wants Louisiana voters to either authorize expansion of the state Medicaid program called for in the federal health care revamp or to provide health care coverage for residents whose income falls below the federal poverty level. Currently more than 240,000 Louisianans fall into the “coverage gap,” meaning they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for subsidized coverage under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Kaiser Commission.

Cost of defending voucher program against legal challenges reaches $770,000
Despite increasingly tight funds for public education, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to funnel $770,000 from the state general fund into the pockets of two law firms in order to defend the state’s controversial voucher program against legal challenges. According to, The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana over its program that uses public money to educate students in private schools. U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle has ruled that the Justice Department has the right to monitor voucher enrollment under a 1976 law that prohibits public money going to segregated private schools.

LSU graduation rate at an all-time high
The good news in education today is that graduation rates at the state’s flagship university are up. According to The Advocate, Louisiana State University graduated 69.1 percent of its students within six years of enrollment — a record high for the third year in a row. That is up from 66.7 percent one year before and only 44.2 percent 20 years ago. The dramatic increase can be attributed in part to a shift in state policy that tied funding to retention and graduation rates.

School reforms receive mixed reviews
Three different educational rankings gave Louisiana public schools different marks for its school reforms — including the Jindal administration’s much-touted voucher program. Both StudentsFirst and the Brookings Institute ranked Louisiana highly for school choice and teacher accountability. But the National Education Policy Center said the reforms lack empirical data to prove they are effective.

$770,000 – The amount Louisiana is paying two law firms to defend the school voucher program in court. (Source: