Jerry Baldwin, the north Louisiana minister making headlines for accepting 315 voucher students into a Ruston Christian school that has no classrooms and no computers, is also the former head coach of the UL Lafayette football team whose lawsuit against UL for wrongful termination and racial discrimination is still pending.
[Editor's Note: This story has been updated following a phone call to The Independent from state Superintendent of Education John White. White expressed his ire with The Ind for citing education reform critic Diane Ravitch's blog, which White says includes inaccurate enrollment numbers for Eternity Christian Academy in Lake Charles. White says the Calcasieu Parish Christian school's current pre-voucher enrollment is 38 students, not 14. The Independent regrets the error.]
The north Louisiana minister making headlines for trying to lure 315 voucher students into a Ruston Christian school with no classrooms and no computers is also the former head coach of the UL Lafayette football team whose lawsuit against UL for wrongful termination and racial discrimination is still pending.
According to a report from The Monroe News Star, the Rev. Jerry Baldwin is minister of New Living Word Ministries and dually serves as principal of the New Living Word School. When the state Department of Education recently released its list of private schools that have been approved to participate in the state’s new voucher program for public students to attend private schools, New World School had been approved for 315 students — accepting 100 more voucher students than any other private school in the state.
But when The News-Star paid a visit to the “school,” the newspaper discovered that “New Living Word did not have facilities, computers or teachers to accommodate the students the state approved them to accept:”
Meanwhile, plans are under way for a tuition increase, a summer construction project, hiring faculty, purchasing computers and constructing desks. The school, the principal said, is moving forward “on faith.”Speaking of opportunities, The News-Star reports that Baldwin’s “school” is slated to receive $2.7 million in public money if he meets maximum voucher enrollment.
“If you’re going to be successful, you’ve got to stop looking at the obstacles and look at the opportunities,” Baldwin said.
When White appeared in front of the committee on Wednesday, he said the approvals were preliminary and the department will now begin its “due diligence” process to ascertain if schools involved in the program could accommodate the number of students they said they would accept.And according to education historian and reform critic Diane Ravitch, New Living World isn’t the only school in the state taking a rather profitable leap of faith on voucher students. Ravitch erroneously reports on her blog that Eternity Christian Academy in Lake Charles has a current enrollment of 14 students and has agreed to accept 135 voucher students in exchange for roughly $1 million in state funds. But White points out that Ravitch's blog is inaccurate, as the Lake Charles Christian school's current pre-voucher enrollment stands at 38 students.
It is during that process that White said the department would learn about the school’s teacher capacity and certifications, tuition, fees and facilities and make necessary adjustments.
The review process, which White told the group had been in the works, was one that participating schools learned about on Wednesday.
Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, said he believes the “due diligence” step is a recently added one. “I would have to believe it came up after the (News-Star) article,” Kostelka said. “You don’t have enough time to do due diligence for this school year.”
An email sent to schools from the Department of Education following approval to participate contained no mention of approvals being “preliminary” or of any further review.
Visualize Lafayette’s next great thing from 3,000 feet.
A Baton Rouge judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday against enforcing a law that prohibits anyone 70 or older from running for justice of the peace or constable.
Gov. Bobby Jindal believes the last-minute passage of a pension hike for his state police superintendent, Col. Mike Edmonson, was improperly handled, according to the governor's office.
As the courts hash out the attempts to preserve and shelve Common Core in Louisiana, a group of six state lawmakers are planning an Aug. 22 trip to Oklahoma to meet with their counterparts and strategize for the 2015 regular session.
While hopes are high for turnout this fall, a new report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate suggests that Louisiana's midterm face-offs may amount to nothing special in terms of votes cast.
The attorney hired by the Lafayette Parish School Board for a special investigation of Superintendent Pat Cooper has submitted his final report, though it may be another week before the findings are made public.
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Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The Tea Party of Louisiana is calling Sen. David Vitter a “turncoat” for his newfound embrace of Common Core educational standards.
An annual report evaluating Gov. Bobby Jindal's privatization of Medicaid lacked important financial information and presented rosy performance reviews not corroborated by data, according to a review released Monday.
Lafayette attorney Michelle Meaux-Breaux has announced her plans to seek the Division E seat for judge in the 15th Judicial District.
A card-carrying member of Lafayette’s “tribe,” Milton “Spider” Guidry died over the weekend. IND music writer Nick Pittman remembers the character and the man.
As tensions continue to escalate in Ferguson, Mo., between law enforcement and residents protesting the shooting death of a local teen by police, we’re reminded of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the in-custody death earlier this year of a New Iberia man.
A group of teachers and parents who support Common Core is asking a state judge to invalidate Gov. Bobby Jindal's actions against the multi-state education standards.
Drew Brees walked up to the line of scrimmage early Sunday, taking a snap during the New Orleans Saints' pre-practice walk-through.
A state judge Friday refused a temporary injunction sought against state education officials in an effort to block implementation of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana.
UL was the consensus pick in a coaches' preseason poll to win the league, and experience has a lot to do with that.
The price tag has nearly doubled for Gov. Bobby Jindal's hiring of an outside consulting firm to recommend new ways to balance the state budget.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu is under scrutiny for billing private chartered planes to her Senate office when she used the flights to attend campaign fundraisers.
Many people found not guilty by reason of insanity are being held in Louisiana jails, where they cannot get the treatment they need, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.
In a just-released audio recording, City Prosecutor Gary Haynes claims Mike Harson had direct dealings with the alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme in the DA’s office.
C-P councilmen sponsor a resolution in support of the notion that one should subscribe to Tea Party ideas about civics before being allowed to seek public office.
Russel Honoré, the retired U.S. Army general known for his role in restoring order to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and most recently for his involvement in the Green Army movement to stop environmental abuses of Louisiana, has now weighed in on the police response to protestors in Ferguson, Mo.
More than three dozen restaurants, bars, convenience stores and supermarkets in Lafayette Parish are facing fines in connection with the state office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control’s 2014 “Summer Crackdown.”
The grim news, delivered to the joint legislative budget committee, barely raised eyebrows at the committee hearing, after more than six years of such disappointing financial forecasts.