Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday, May 30, 2014

Louisiana’s infrastructure not ready for industrial boom; Washington Post highlights praise and criticism of Recovery School District; Not all petitioners are equal at the state capitol; Lawmakers agree to create WISE incentive fund; and Peterson: Jindal fails at fiscal responsibility. $60 billion — A conservative estimate of the cost for new and expanded transportation projects needed across the state. (Source: NOLA.com)

Washington Post highlights praise and criticism of Recovery School District
The Washington Post looked at how New Orleans’ Recovery School District has shuttered all of its traditional schools, moving to a charter-school only system. The change puts the Crescent City at the forefront of a national trend toward charters, which are governed by independent boards and have more freedom to experiment than traditional public schools. And while test scores have improved in New Orleans, some say that’s less a function of the charter movement than the city’s changing demographics in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

“Critics of the all-charter New Orleans model say it is undemocratic, because leaders of charter schools are not accountable to voters. They also say the system is challenging for parents, who have to figure out logistics that were not an issue when their children walked to neighborhood schools.

“’They don’t answer to anyone,’ said Sean Johnson, the dean of students at Banneker, whose father attended the school while growing up in the Black Pearl neighborhood. ‘The charters have money and want to make more money. They have their own boards, make their own rules, accept who they want and put out who they want to put out.’”

Not all petitioners are equal at the state capitol
The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace notes in her column that the star treatment given to members of the New Orleans Saints this week at the state Capitol is a far cry from the way other labor leaders are regarded when they petition their elected representatives.

Close observers of the Legislature might notice a particular irony. The football hero, long a leader in the NFLPA, was basically there as a labor leader, speaking for what passes in pro sports as the little guy.

“It’s not too often that most Louisiana lawmakers are delighted to see someone with that point of view. I don’t recall too many photos of legislators posing with others who sought a break — those who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion, say, or protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, or the right to use medical marijuana to ease the pain of terminal illness.”

Lawmakers agree to create WISE incentive fund
A new fund designed to finance workforce training in high demand fields won final passage in the Legislature Thursday. The Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy (WISE) Fund is the centerpiece of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s higher education agenda this session. It will receive $40 million in seed funding next year – which represents a continuation of dollars that were first made available last year – with the Board of Regents deciding which campuses get the money.

Peterson: Jindal fails at fiscal responsibility
In a letter to The Advocate, Karen Carter Peterson accused Gov. Bobby Jindal of using a series of gimmicks to balance the state budget in the face of stagnant revenues. “Jindal has delivered one fiscally irresponsible budget after another, prompting devastating midyear budget cuts to our health care system and higher education. Despite pledges to the contrary, he has raided dedicated funding streams to backfill general budget shortfalls, pilfered hurricane recovery funds to pay for operating expenses, borrowed short-term loans from the treasury to allow our public universities to pay their day-to-day bills and generally robbed Peter to pay Paul in every way imaginable.”

$60 billion — A conservative estimate of the cost for new and expanded transportation projects needed across the state. (Source: NOLA.com)