Public school classrooms across Louisiana are reopening this week after a month of mostly remote instruction, leaving families with an agonizing decision: send children back into classrooms where they are more likely to contract the novel coronavirus, or continue to keep them home, where the social, emotional and nutrition supports kids often need for academic success are sometimes lacking? As LBP’s Neva Butkus reports in a new blog, that choice may be particularly difficult in households where children live with their grandparents, whose age could make them particularly susceptible to infection.
In Louisiana alone, 106,403 grandparents live with their grandchildren, and nearly half – 50,671 – are fully or partially responsible for the caretaking of that child. More than 22% of these grandparents are entirely responsible for raising their grandchildren, as no parent is present in the household. The trend of grandparents as caretakers has increased in recent years, particularly in the south, due to higher rates of mass incarceration and the opioid crisis.
Louisiana’s expensive water woes
Long before Hurricane Laura blasted Southwest Louisiana, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without potable water, communities across the state were already at risk of losing access to a public utility that most of us take for granted. The AP’s Melinda Deslatte reports on Louisiana’s fragile water systems, many of which are in dire need of repair.
“I think it definitely brings to the forefront how important water is. You know, people take it for granted that when they turn on their taps that they have water,” said Amanda Ames, chief engineer for the Louisiana Department of Health overseeing water issues. “And then when they don’t, they realize, ‘I can’t flush my toilet. I don’t have fire protection.’ It almost makes things uninhabitable.” … Gov. John Bel Edwards has tried to draw new attention to Louisiana’s struggling water systems, particularly those in rural areas that are teetering on the brink of catastrophic failures.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Louisiana needs $7 billion over 20 years to fix the problem. The Legislature has created a committee to study the issue.
A campus spotlight on racism
Universities across the country are using the national anti-racist movement as occasion to examine their own histories of racism. While renaming buildings and removing Confederate statues is relatively easy, the harder part of this work involves examining history to see how a university’s policies have perpetuated racism and White supremacy. Nola.com | The Advocate’s Mark Ballard reports that LSU is not as far along as some of its peers institutions that participated in a virtual conference on the issue:
More than any other university chief on Tuesday’s Zoom conference, (interim LSU President Tom) Galligan heads an institution with a long history of racial discrimination. LSU’s president routinely faces harsh blowback at most any effort to change campus traditions. LSU didn’t admit a Black student into its undergraduate ranks until 1953. Since A.P. Tureaud Jr. attended — his interactions were primarily with maintenance and cafeteria workers rather than faculty — LSU has made great strides to recruit and retain Black students. Still, in the fall 2019 semester, the last with complete numbers, 13% of the flagship’s enrollment were African American. The state’s population is 32% Black.
Census data coming this week
The U.S. Census Bureau will be releasing data this week on health insurance coverage, poverty and income for 2019. The data will provide an important snapshot of where America stood before the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting recession. Arloc Sherman and Matt Broaddus of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provide a preview of what to expect:
Today’s economic conditions are vastly different from those of a year ago. The economy generally continued to improve in 2019, although unevenly, making it likely that the Census data will show incomes rose and the poverty rate declined modestly from the year before — although we expect no improvement, and possibly further backsliding, on health insurance coverage in 2019.
Number of the Day
114,000 – Number of school-age children in New York City who lacked a “fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence” in 2019. More than 45,000 children spent at least one night in a municipal shelter. (Source: New York Times).