Most Louisianans think the state should spend more money on K-12 schools, higher education, health care and roads, according to the 2017 Louisiana Survey by Louisiana State University’s Public Policy Research Lab. The annual tally also found people are open to higher taxes to fund these priorities and don’t think the wealthy are paying their fair share. Health care, human services, and education comprise 89 percent of the state’s discretionary budget. The Advocate’s Elizabeth Crisp:
More than half of respondents said that they would support increased taxes on specific areas of the budget including: K-12 education (62 percent), higher education (59 percent), health care (53 percent), and transportation (57 percent).
Most people said they wanted to see both tax increases and spending cuts as part of the solution to the state’s budget crisis. But those who wanted to see cuts also wanted to boost spending in at least one area. Nola.com/The Times-Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue:
About 85 percent of those who want to rely only on spending cuts to fix the budget nevertheless indicated they wanted to boost spending in one of the six policy areas: elementary and secondary education, higher education, health care, transportation, prisons or programs for poor people.
Cuts have violent consequences
Left understaffed by budget cuts, a Louisiana Department of Health facility for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has experienced an upsurge in violence. Pinecrest Supports and Services Center which previously experienced few if any violent incidents has become an unsafe work environment. The department requested 85 additional staff positions in this year’s budget. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard:
The sudden and dramatic increase in violent attacks is an unintended consequence of “real quick privatization,” says Louisiana Department of Health Deputy Secretary Michelle Alletto, whose responsibilities include the 95-year-old facility near Pineville. Looking to save money, the state slashed budgets, laid off personnel and in 2013 closed other public facilities, intending to send the bulk of the patients to small, privately-owned group homes in communities around the state where their needs could be addressed on a more individualized basis. Pinecrest Supports and Services Center got the rest.
School segregation and opportunity
America’s schools remain highly segregated by race and income six decades after Brown v. Board of Education. Low-income school districts often receive less resources than their better-off peers, exacerbating socio-economic gaps. And integration has a proven impact on academic achievement. In a recent report, Richard V. Reeves and Edward Rodrigue of The Brookings Institution look at lessons learned from the repeal of a school integration plan in Wake County, North Carolina. They find that practical matters like transportation and school schedules are important considerations.
The segregation of schools is not a product of natural forces, but of policy. More integration is both desirable and practicable. It is also intertwined with resource allocation, managerial skill, and basic issues such as an adequate team of people driving buses to and from school every day. Resources, leadership, communication: the ingredients of successful integration turn out to be very similar to those for success in running education systems in general.
Stuck on stupid
Hundreds of thousands of public school children in Louisiana will remain without high-speed internet access thanks to the failure of school system leaders to take advantage of an opportunity to have free broadband installed in every school across the state. As The Advocate’s Will Sentell reports, only 11 of the state’s 69 school districts elected to take advantage of the offer from the state Board of Regents – which was far short of the “critical mass” needed to make the $85 million initiative work. So the Regents pulled the plug.
State Superintendent of Education John White, who attended the meeting in Alexandria, said what local school districts were offered “was on a par with the system that colleges have today.” … “This was the broadband highway,” White said. “This was going to be world-class cable that would allow speed in schools previously unheard of so that kids could process content at a rate faster than anything that most schools have ever imagined.”
Number of the Day
55 – Percent of Louisianans who believe upper income people aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. (Source: 2017 Louisiana Survey)