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19.7.12

Education reform opponents hypocritically resist transparency

One of the red herring arguments used by opponents to recent education reform efforts in Louisiana has been the process has lacked openness and transparency. Perhaps this has proven a popular line of attack out for its familiarity, because some of these opponents themselves come up far short in this category.

A group leading the charge has been the Coalition for Progress in Louisiana, which now holds itself out as “Louisiana Progress.” The affiliate of the far-left Center for American Progress is according to its website and IRS letter of determination for 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit status domiciled in Baton Rouge with former Shreveport state Rep. Melissa Flournoy as its executive director. Within the past year she has had several opinion pieces that ran in the Shreveport Times about education and other issues, and recently the organization with The Times sponsored a forum on coming challenges in education, and also the same with a couple of other Gannett publications.

Also being involved in other political outreach efforts, one would think this costs some money. The group appears to be able to attract some donors: the web site for Razoo, a foundation to channel money to groups, in the middle of July gave a total of 108 donors and three separate “fundraisers” that indirectly had money donated to it. The Form 990 that some nonprofit groups are required annually to submit to the Internal Revenue Service from Razoo showed in 2011 it shunted $6,453 to the organization.

18.7.12

Bossier Jury violates taxpayers, spirit of public service

The good news is that the leeches on the Bossier Parish Police Jury could have stuck it to taxpayers three years ago. The bad news is they’re going to stick it to them now anyway – continuing a long-time pattern of living the high life at taxpayer expense

A majority of jurors wasted little time after fall elections to help themselves to other people’s money that could be spent on genuine parish concerns, courtesy of a state law passed in 2008 that allowed an increase in members’ salary from the maximum $1,200 per month if salaried to $1,600. They followed the notice procedures in the law and then as one of their first acts of 2012 jacked up salaries to the maximum. The greediest voting affirmative were Wanda Bennett, Jimmy Cochran, Jerome Darby, Wayne Hammack, and Mac Plummer, as all will continue in office beginning their next terms this week, while the defeated Winfred Johnston, Barry Butler, and Brad Cummings perhaps decided to give citizens the middle-fingered salute for getting ousted by presenting their opponents with this gift.

Not that the minority, comprised of the departing Hank Meachum and Bill Altimus, and returning Glen Benton and Rick Avery, seemed that resistant to the idea. Avery didn’t seem to disagree that they should have the one-third increase, just that the time wasn’t right, while Altimus, who will stay parish administrator, thought it could have been handled during budgeting.

17.7.12

Rebel flag leaves courthouse area with deserved whimper

The last significant forces of the Confederate States of America surrendered last month in history, who had been stationed around the last capital of the Confederacy, Shreveport. But another significant surrender happened quietly months ago in Caddo Parish.

Without warning, late last year, with a vote one short of unanimity, the Caddo Parish Commission ordered the (Third) Confederate (Battle) flag from its perch on a monument honoring Confederate forces very near the Courthouse. Hours later it had been removed. Thus quietly ended a long-running, sometimes heated, controversy, and rightfully so.

Six decades ago the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed the flag in an apparent response to the burgeoning civil rights movement, on the monument that now has sat for over a century in the square block encompassing the Courthouse. Both objects remained as society drastically changed around them, spawning several relatively recent attempts to have the flag taken down, but never legally so because of the presumed ownership of the small plot around the northwest corner of the lot by the UDC …

16.7.12

Manageable aid cut to hasten charity system demise

The Gov. Bobby Jindal Administration continues to make lemonade out of lemons, as the hit the state takes from Congress deciding to stop favoring it on Medicaid reimbursement provides another opportunity for the governor to push along the needed revamp of care to the indigent, and even finally wean the state off its inefficient model that makes government the primary provider of health care.

As head of the Department of Health and Hospitals 15 years ago, Jindal saw firsthand the tremendous inefficiency of a health care system based upon primary care provided large institutions – the country’s only such system where a number of state-owned hospitals provided this for those on Medicaid. Then as now dealing with a budgetary imperative, he began to wrench efficiency into the system, the process of which would continue under the oversight of others when he left the job, although very slowly if at all under the appointees of his predecessor to him as governor.

The pace picked up again when he became governor. Although he could created more efficiencies by making it smaller, the replacement for the state’s hospital in New Orleans, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, at least was downsized from earlier versions in some recognition of the smaller role the state should play in direct provision of indigent care beyond that needed for its use as a teaching hospital. He also got the Legislature, which must approve of closures, to go along with closing the aging hospital in Baton Rouge, having its service performed by private providers contracted to the state.

15.7.12

Program symptomatic of LA higher education deterioration

It’s not really the content of what’s termed a “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender” minor to which Louisiana taxpayers ought to object. Rather, it’s just the symptom of a larger disease in the state’s higher education delivery system, a malady that must be treated if the system is to evolve into an efficient and effective producer of economic development and in its capacity to assist in advancing knowledge of the human condition.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette seems to have instituted this kind of minor, which is a selection of coursework often about 18 hours of study that are in addition to a student’s major area of study. Often, courses in these can serve double duty in fulfilling university requirements past the roughly one-third of hours required for all baccalaureate students in Louisiana. Noted on completer’s transcripts, this one is said to cull courses from sociology, cultural anthropology, child and family studies and human sexuality. As is typical of most minors, it does not require any additional startup costs, as existing courses and resources are used to deliver it.

Naturally, it has little practical use out in the real world. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because while one purpose of a college degree is to impart a useful skill set, which has particular import in the hard sciences and related areas such as in business, the other is, to put it maybe tritely, to broaden horizons. This is accomplished by exposing students to a spectrum of the human condition, as expressed through a number of different activities and end-products of them, with the end goal being to get students to understand the basics and then use those as a jumping off point to encourage them to be able to think successfully critically about them, to form their own meritorious ideas, and to explicate them in a way others can understand.