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Census numbers reveal natural, anticipated districts

As census information comes trickling in, some Louisiana House members acted way ahead of the curve, a few ponder their next step, and one acted perhaps too hastily.

Of course, reapportionment has brought a certain amount of chaos to the political futures of those representatives especially to parishes that lost almost third or even about half of their residents due to the hurricane disasters of 2005. Every Orleans-based district save two lost at least 29 percent of its residents. One of these, the 102nd at only 18 percent represented by state Rep. Jeff Arnold who is eligible to run again, looks set as most likely to preserve his seat.

Some saw it coming and planned for a post-legislative future.


Numbers confirm more LA Democrat switches may loom

Oops there goes another dog Democrat (if you can identify the name of the song with which this line closely resembles a lyric from it, as well as the artist and politician with which it is associated, leave a comment and I’ll write a nice comment about your stunning level of knowledge, or at least search engine cleverness). Now it’s state Rep. Bubba Chaney’s turn to switch parties.

Chaney said upon announcing his change that he thought it consistent with his conservative beliefs, which is a half-truth. Indeed, on the Louisiana Legislature Log index of ideology and reform instinct for 2010 he scored a 90, where 100 is the maximum conservative/reformer score. But in 2009 he managed just a 30, and in 2008 a 45, for an average of 55. This makes his more of a moderate than anything, although he did every year exceed the average Democrat House member score. In that respect, unless he suddenly found religion last year, this is more a switch of convenience.

But in concert with the revelation, Republican House Speaker Jim Tucker said more are coming, and he may be right.


LA should change radically tech school system

In the debate over higher education provision in Louisiana, here’s a thought: what if the state scrapped its existing technical schools?

Even as Louisiana is overbuilt in its baccalaureate-and-up institutions, it might be even more when considering it has 49 separate campuses to provide technical training. This is in addition to the 87 accredited non-public entities that provide some kind of major occupational training in a physical location at the tertiary level in the state (and 104 total proprietary schools).

Accreditation is important because as long as other sound practices are followed, this allows a school to have its students qualify for federal assistance, loans and/or grants. This money ends up paying for the bulk of operations at the proprietary schools, but much less for state schools. The latter also typically have much lower tuition and fee costs for students.

One could argue that with the lower costs, perhaps as much as only one-quarter of those of the highest-priced proprietary schools for some programs, that it’s necessary for the state to maintain the system so poorer individuals can get that education. It might also justify the state having so many campuses, most outside of large urban areas making them more accessible to students.

But location isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.


Landrieu needs much luck to win a 4th Senate term

A third of the way into her third term as U.S. Senator, Democrat Mary Landrieu has let the world know she intends to run for a fourth term. While fortune always has favored her in the past, she’ll need it more than ever as circumstances continue to turn against her.

Landrieu epitomizes the notion of a career politician, serving in elective office virtually her entire post-collegiate life, first winning a place in the state Legislature at 23 with only one thing to her name – her name, being the daughter of former New Orleans Mayor (among other things) Moon Landrieu. During her time in various offices, including becoming senator in less than a decade, her accomplishments have been few and thin, nothing memorable or major.

But particularly regarding her continued Senate success, timing has been awfully good for her.


Results show Caddo Plan failure, big changes needed

The initial year of the brainchild of Caddo Parish School District Superintendant Gerald Dawkins, the Caddo Plan, is in the books. Hyped as the solution to turn around a school system in decline, it instead has turned out to be a bandage – a big, impressive, expensive one, but a bandage nonetheless that has done little to address the problem of decline because, as noted in this space previously, it merely rearranges the deck chairs on a sinking ship. And the expense is putting the system into financial crisis, according to the state.

Confirmation of this poor plan and use of funds came with school accountability scores released by the state last year. Across the entire state, Caddo had the honor of having a majority of the few new schools declared academically unacceptable. Further, no parish schools that were on the list exited even as the overall number listed statewide shrank. And it gets worse, as an increase in standards in the next two years probably will push even more schools into the unacceptable category; if scores remain the same over the next two years, 17 more will be added to the 11 already there, giving around a third of the district schools this dubious honor.

Those already on the list and those likely to be there soon contain most of the schools presumably “reinvented” by the Caddo Plan.