New reading rules narrowed (again)

New reading rules narrowed (again)

Education Superintendent Cade Brumley has offered several compromise plans to address the literacy crisis in Louisiana schools. Brumley’s original proposal, which mandated summer school for children who failed to read on grade level, was scaled back to only only apply to children in the third and fourth grades. But on Tuesday, a committee of the state’s top school board approved another watered-down plan. The Advocate’s Will Sentell was at the meeting and reports on the new rules: 

Under the proposal endorsed Tuesday, students required to undergo reading remediation could skip summer school and ask a team of adult leaders at the school to decide whether they would have to repeat the grade or receive other assistance. “It forces all the adults in the building to work together,” Brumley said. “What we have done is modify our policy along the way to make it as acceptable as it can possibly be,” he said. The two-year requirement was backed without objection by the Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement Committee.

The full Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is scheduled to vote on the new standards in November. 

Equity in Infrastructure
Louisiana will receive more than $6 billion from the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will be used to tackle the state’s massive $15 billion backlog of transportation repairs and upgrades. On Tuesday, Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development was on Capitol Hill to make the Pelican State one of the first to sign onto a new initiative aimed at hiring more minority-owned businesses to work on public infrastructure projects. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard reports on the Equity in Infrastructure Project

EIP works to secure commitments from public agencies to increase the number, size and scope of contracts going to minority businesses by facilitating access and reducing barriers to compete for business. The idea is to improve public contracting practices, remove bureaucratic roadblocks, and standardize procedures from state to state to help grow the businesses of minority contractors. Louisiana has a lot of subcontractors, hired to do specific jobs, and relatively few prime contractors, who are hired by the state to manage big projects like adding a lane in each direction to Interstate 10. The prime contractors hire subcontractors to handle specific jobs.

Labor hoarding could prevent layoffs
The Federal Reserve has been hiking up interest rates in an effort to slow inflation, which in turn could also tip the U.S. economy into a recession and cause massive employee layoffs. But as The New York Times’ Jeanna Smialek and Sydney Ember explain, policymakers and employees are hoping that the last two years, characterized by the largest labor shortage in decades, could make employers wary of the traditional practice of laying off workers when the economy cools. 

Fed officials themselves expect unemployment to rise nearly a full percentage point to 4.4 percent next year — and policymakers have admitted that is a mild estimate, given how much they are trying to slow down the economy. Some economists have penciled in worse outcomes. Deutsche Bank, for instance, predicts 5.6 percent joblessness by the end of 2023. Labor hoarding offers a glimmer of hope that could help the Fed’s more benign unemployment forecast to become reality: Employers who are loath to jettison workers may help the labor market to slow down and wage growth to moderate without a spike in joblessness.

Hospital consolidation in New Orleans
The hospital industry in New Orleans is becoming more consolidated, as LCMC Health this week announced its $150 million deal to acquire three Tulane hospitals owned by HCA Healthcare. The deal means that the Crescent City healthcare market will be dominated by LCMC and Ochsner Health. The Times-Picayune’s Emily Woodruff reports that this is good news for hospitals, which can use the economics of scale to cut costs, but potentially bad news for consumers. 

(A) bigger system means more negotiating power for the hospitals against suppliers and insurance companies. In Louisiana, Blue Cross is the largest private insurer, with over 1.3 million members in the state, or nearly 70% of the market. … Consolidation of hospitals also typically results in higher costs for patients, according to multiple analyses of hospital mergers published in academic journals. The agreement is dependent on approval from the state Attorney General’s Office. 

Number of the Day
1% – Percentage of Black-owned business revenue as a share of the revenue generated by white-owned businesses. (Source: Equity in Infrastructure Project)