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.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”
Education Superintendent John White says a continued push to try to keep Louisiana from using tests associated with the Common Core education standards are creating "a state of chaos" for public school teachers.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's plan to use $210 million in surplus and one-time money to help balance next year's budget received the backing Thursday of the State Bond Commission, support that was needed for the maneuver to work.
State wildlife and fisheries agents have arrested a 39-year-old man accused of stealing crawfish.
An East Feliciana Parish lawmaker has jettisoned his proposal to make it harder for a condemned prisoner to appeal a death sentence.
Senators advanced a proposal Wednesday that would let the governor remove New Orleans-area levee board members for violating what he considers to be public policy, despite concerns it would introduce political meddling into state flood protection.