Louisianans who follow such things are used to a slew of depressing statistics about poverty, crime, low educational attainment and other maladies that affect our children. The Legislature has struggled to pass bills over the years that would survey risky behaviors among youth. But a new report contains some great news about American high school students, who are doing better on many measures than their counterparts from 1991. Natalia Pane’s blog on Child Trends examines more:
In 1991, 82 percent of high schoolers reported having tried alcohol. By 2017, that number had dropped to 60 percent—a 26 percent decrease. The share of students who reported currently drinking alcohol dropped from 51 to 30 percent—a 41 percent decrease. Importantly, the percentage of students who drank before age 13—an indicator related to likelihood of addiction and long-term alcohol problems—is also at an all-time low of 16 percent. Among states, Utah has the lowest rate of students who currently use alcohol (11 percent). Louisiana, Montana, Arizona, and Vermont report some of the highest rates (34, 33, 33, and 33 percent, respectively).
Corporate tax breaks are costly for schools
A coalition of teachers and community activists is asking ExxonMobil Corp. to forgo property tax breaks that would deprive East Baton Rouge public schools of $6.2 million in potential revenue, arguing that the money would be better spent supporting teachers and students than shareholders of one of the world’s largest companies. It’s the latest skirmish in the ongoing battle over the Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) since Gov. John Bel Edwards moved to rein in the program with a 2016 executive order. Charles Lussier of The Advocate has more:
“We’re operating at a deficit. Teachers did not get a pay raise and have not gotten one in 10 years,” said Angela Reams-Brown, president of one of the East Baton Rouge Federation of Teachers. The letter was signed by Reams as well as the heads of Together Baton Rouge, the East Baton Rouge Association of Educators, the Baton Rouge Education Coalition, One Community One School District, the Louisiana School Bus Operators Association Inc., and Service Employees International Union. The outstanding exemption requests cover $152 million worth of property. In a response Thursday, ExxonMobil noted that $152 million is just part of $269 million in total investment the corporate giant has made in Baton Rouge, helping to preserve its status as the largest taxpayer in the parish and the state. “Out of the total 2017 investment, we anticipate to generate new property tax revenue of $7.9 million over 10 years, $15.2 million over 20 years, and $20.6 million over 30 years,” said Stephanie Cargile, a spokeswoman for ExxonMobil.
Data transparency in higher education
College students often say that finding a good job is the main reason they pursued higher education. But there is limited data and information to help them find the right program and school. Expanding transparency and access to data would improve postsecondary education. U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy and LSU President King Alexander are trying to tackle the problem through the bipartisan College Transparency Act, which they explained on CNN:
Currently, only a small portion of data collected from higher education institutions is made available to consumers through websites such as the Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the National Student Clearinghouse. Further, the data being collected paints an incomplete picture, because only first-time, full-time students who graduate from the same college at which they started are counted. Obviously, this leaves out a large number of non-traditional students, including those who attend college part-time, those who transfer to another college, and those who do not take federal financial aid. Individual colleges and universities would benefit too. The data would help them determine what happens to the nearly 50% of students who leave prior to graduating, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The institutions could then improve the products and experiences they offer, helping more students succeed.
New Orleans ranks high for young entrepreneurs
A strong underlying economy combined with incubators for networking is key to help young startup companies grow and thrive. Economic opportunity is a key factor to recruiting and retaining a well- educated population. According to a recent analysis of business data shows New Orleans as one of the top major cities for young entrepreneurs. Elyssa Kirkham of Lending Tree has more on their study:
The dream of entrepreneurship is within reach for many New Orleans founders — the average age of founders is just under 38. Not only is New Orleans a cultural giant, it’s also a standout when it comes to cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs and startups. A hallmark of New Orleans’ business landscape is the annual New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Started by entrepreneurship-focused nonprofit Idea Village, this major event gives would-be founders a chance to learn, grow and even pitch their business ideas. On top of strong community initiatives to support new businesses, New Orleans also provides twin benefits of affordable local costs and business tax incentives that can help lower the economic barriers to starting a business.
Number of the day
42.7 percent – The percentage of Louisiana’s total state revenue in FY 2016 that came from the federal government, the state’s largest source of revenue. (Source: Pew Trusts)