Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Small victory for Louisiana colleges this session; Louisiana’s jobs future bright; Opinion: New Orleans charter schools a failure; State workforce shrinks by 8,000; Louisiana schools rank poorly for safety; From the department of self promotion; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau holds New Orleans field hearing tomorrow. $700 million — The amount of state support cut from higher education since 2008. (Source: The Associated Press)

Small victory for Louisiana colleges this session
Cuts to state colleges and universities have been so severe over the last six years that higher education leaders are cheering this session’s lack of cuts and modest investment in a new fund for certain programs, reports the AP’s Melinda Deslatte. But others are quick to point out how low the bar was set. “’When you’ve had six straight years of budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts, just hitting the floor and reaching bottom and hopefully building the way back up is important,’ Barry Erwin, president of the nonpartisan Council for A Better Louisiana, said Tuesday. But Erwin added: ‘That’s unfortunate that we’re considering it a win that higher education didn’t get slashed again.’”

Louisiana’s jobs future bright
Thanks largely to a strong oil and gas industry, Louisiana is expected to outpace the nation in job growth over the next year, according to data from the Louisiana Workforce Commission. The state is expected to add approximately 100,000 jobs, a growth rate of approximately 1.7 percent. The national forecast is 1.08 percent. However, some employers are reporting that they can’t find candidates with the right skills to fill some positions.

Opinion: New Orleans charter schools a failure
The charter school experiment in New Orleans has failed in both its mission to provide a better education to students and to provide students and parents with more choices, argues J. Celeste Lay in The Advocate. She says the lottery system for placing students in New Orleans schools eliminates any choice parents have in the matter, while “The New Orleans Recovery School District comes in at the 17th percentile in the state in its percentage of students at the basic level and above. The RSD has no A-rated schools and few B schools. By the state’s post-Katrina definition of a failing school, nine years into the experiment, nearly all of the schools in the RSD are ‘failing.’

“…It doesn’t matter that with all this choice, most kids in New Orleans have no greater educational opportunities than before. The focus on choice as opposed to results also obscures the fact that certain groups have profited substantially in the post-Katrina system.”

State workforce shrinks by 8,000
More than 8,000 rank-and-file state workers have lost their jobs since the start of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, according to a new report by the state Civil Service Commission. As The Advocate reports, most of the classified positions came from the state-run charity hospital system, which has been privatized, and administration officials say most of those who were laid off have been rehired by the private operators.

Louisiana schools rank poorly for safety
In measures of safety ranked by the National Center for Education Statistics, Louisiana students fell behind many of their peers in other states, reports Louisiana schools fell near the bottom of the rankings in number of fights, number of teachers who had been threatened or attacked, and the number of students who reported being threatened or injured with a weapon on campus. Louisiana teachers also reported the nation’s highest rate of student misbehavior interfering with classroom teaching. However, Louisiana students were below the average for the number of students who reported bringing a weapon to school and the number of students who reported having access to illegal drugs at school.

From the department of self promotion
Though LBP had some notable defeats at the Capitol this session, The Advocate’s Lanny Keller kindly points out that we should not be counted out on future legislative issues. “By the amount of attention garnered, and the fact that most of its key issues will be alive and well next year — if not more attention-getting in the 2015 election year — the relatively new center-left think tank headed by former Capitol reporter Jan Moller had a good session.

“Jindal has pretty much exhausted the budgetary expedients and borrowing from the future that LBP — and PAR and others, as well — see as bad policy. Look to Moller’s LBP to be prominent in pushing new revenues to prop up the system.”

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau holds New Orleans field hearing tomorrow
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau invites New Orleans residents to a field hearing on Thursday to discuss mobile financial services. CFBP Director Richard Cordray will attend the hearing, as well as consumer groups, industry representatives and members of the public. The field hearing will be held at the Old US Mint (400 Esplanade Avenue) from 10 am to 12 pm. To RSVP, please email your full name and your organizational affiliation (if any) to

$700 million — The amount of state support cut from higher education since 2008. (Source: The Associated Press)