A recent analysis of the racial and income makeup of Louisiana schools has reinforced what state leaders have known for a long time: Poverty and school performance are inextricably linked. It’s not surprising that in Louisiana – a state with the highest poverty rate and second-highest child poverty rate in the nation – 71% of all public school students are economically disadvantaged. Black students, who are more likely to hail from low-income families, are more than five times as likely to attend a “failing” school than their white counterparts. But as an Advocate editorial explains, leaders must act to ensure Louisiana’s history of endemic poverty doesn’t cripple the state’s future. 

Children in low-income homes are less likely to do well academically. They are less likely to have balanced meals and resources that support good health, homework and studying. We have known these things for years. … Research and reports like these point to a longstanding, deep-seated problem for the state. Poverty lies at the root of our children’s educational challenges, and our children’s educational opportunities significantly impact our state’s economic future. Any serious attempt to build a brighter future for Louisiana must include measures to address poverty as part of an overall effort to improve educational outcomes.

Guns for domestic abusers 
Advocates, prosecutors and some legislators are pushing back against the recent federal court ruling that allows people accused of domestic violence to own firearms. The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit means domestic abusers in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi can now legally own a firearm even if they still pose a threat to their partner or partner’s children. While the ruling is only limited to those three states, gun reform leaders fear how it will reverberate in cases of domestic abuse throughout the country. The Advocate’s Mark Ballard and Jacqueline DeRobertis report:

“It’s like a crack in the dam,” said Rep. Troy Carter, who represents parts of New Orleans and Baton Rouge and is the delegation’s only Democrat. “The decision could cause great harm if that crack starts widening.” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, said members concerned with domestic violence and gun issues met Tuesday night to start looking for wording that would circumvent the hurdles raised by the 5th Circuit decision. … A former president of the New Orleans City Council, Helena Moreno, criticized the members of the appellate court panel. “Their decision shows that the 5th Circuit is much more willing to protect abusers than victims,” Moreno said.

Reality check: Louisiana ranks second in the nation for women killed by men, with the rate increasing for six consecutive years. In 2020, 35 out of 52 women killed in Louisiana by a man were shot to death. 

Army Corps reject grain elevator impact report – again
The developer of a controversial grain elevator has been reprimanded by a federal agency –  for the second time in six months – for failing to accurately describe the project’s impact on Black communities and historic sites. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rejected claims by Greenfield LLC that its proposed grain elevator in the tiny West Bank community of Wallace would have no “adverse effects.” Pro Publica’s Seth Freed Wessler explains how internal reports that showed the damaging effects of the grain elevator were gutted and how Greenfield falsely claimed that leaders of Rise St. James, an environmental justice group, expressed support for the company. 

“It’s very disappointing that they would continue to double down on the report, that they are still saying there will not be any detrimental effects,” Erin Edwards, who blew the whistle on the earlier report, told ProPublica in a recent interview. … “Gulf South knew all along that the project would have an adverse effect on the historic plantations there, and they knew that it would have an adverse effect on the area as a whole,” Edwards said. “There’s no way to look at the evidence and not see that it’s going to be detrimental.”

War over Medicare and Social Security has just begun
After previously being open to the idea, congressional Republicans have come to the realization that it’s politically impossible to cut Medicare and Social Security. But the rare point of bipartisan agreement to protect the critical programs obscures the fact they face insolvency in less than 15 years unless tax increases or cuts are used to address their shortfall. The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein and Tony Romm explain why the battle over Medicare and Social Security is far from over. 

Polling suggests most Americans believe seniors should be entitled to their full benefits without cuts. But Medicare’s trust fund is projected to be exhausted by 2028, at which point the federal government probably would delay or reduce reimbursements to doctors and hospitals under the federal insurance program relied on by more than 60 million people. Unless Congress acts, Social Security benefits for a similar number will also be cut by 20 percent starting in 2035, according to the latest federal report on the matter. Even as these dates grow nearer, lawmakers have become much less willing to discuss potential solutions.

Number of the Day
71% – Percentage of all Louisiana public school students that are economically disadvantaged. (Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor)