Kopplin: State paying $11.6M to schools teaching creationism
Of the roughly 6,600 slots available for publicly funded private school tuition through the state’s new voucher program, 1,350 will be filled at private Christian schools that teach creationism and peg evolution as “false science.”
According to testimony from Baton Rouge’s Zack Kopplin, who spoke against the voucher program Tuesday at a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting, the 1,350 students signing up for creationism classes will cost taxpayers $11.6 million next school year.
Kopplin, an 18-year-old Rice University student best known for his efforts during the last two legislative sessions to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, was one of several people who addressed BESE recently in opposition of the controversial voucher program, but it wasn’t enough to sway the majority of the state’s top school board. In a 9-2 vote Tuesday, BESE approved accountability guidelines set forth by state Education Superintendent John White for private schools participating in the voucher program, benchmarks that are far less stringent than those of public schools:
Unlike in public schools, passing or failing the tests in private schools will not be used to determine whether students advance to the next grade. But it will be used to grade the schools. White says that “allows for a common academic bar when parents make their decisions” on whether to switch from a public to a private school.
Opponents of the new system complained that it doesn’t really have any teeth because White has authority to waive every component, including restrictions on enrollment and curriculum. White disagreed, contending that the system does impose consequences for schools that do not perform academically or do not have appropriate accommodations for operating schools.
Donald Songy, representing the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, said that under the new regulations, about 120 schools would receive vouchers, but only about 25 would be tested and only 16 would receive scores because of the numbers White set for testing.
[Louisiana Progress Director Melissa] Flournoy pointed out that a published BESE document says no school could increase its enrollment more than 20 percent and schools couldn’t increase tuition more than 20 percent. White said the regulations allow a 25 percent increase, or 50 students.
But documents released Tuesday show many schools are being allowed to go well beyond those limitations. Most noticeably is the New Living Word Church School near Ruston that more than doubled its enrollment with 165 voucher students.
In fact, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program has paved the way for at least nine Christian schools across the state to double their enrollment over last year, The Associated Press reports. White attributes those “exceptions” to “extraordinary cases,” such as high demand from parents.
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APR 15 Blogger CB Forgotston is writing in this post about the newest hire by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a press secretary whose only means of contact is (apparently) Twitter. (Yeah, because that worked so good for Kyle.) CB has done a little digging on the lady, but wants more info -- and he's not getting it from the source, because she won't return his twits. Twerps. Uh, tweets.
APR 15 Blogger Elliott Stonecipher has his say on the McAllister mess in this post on Forward Now. Looks like the architects of the plan to oust McAllister are getting a little blow-back, Stonecipher opines, and it reminds him of an old cliche about revenge.
APR 15 Not one to walk past a golden opportunity, Democrat John Bel Edwards says his piece in this Picayune post on the GOP's issue du jour. The hypocrisy of the GOP calling on McAllister to resign and staying silent on Vitter is so massive there's not even a word for it, Edwards says, and so he came up with his own: hypo-hypocrisy.
APR 15 Here's Grist's take on the so-called kalegate issue over in NOLA. If you've forgotten, it all started when a Dutch actress said that New Orleans is not cosmopolitan because you can't get kale there (Sister, you can get kale at the Wal-Mart in Lafayette. Where you shopping?) This post, by Heather Hansman, also gets into the larger (class/elitism) issues brought to light by this discussion.
APR 15 Here's the latest poll done on the Congressional race over in Baton Rouge that is distinguished by the presence of one of Louisiana's most famous felons, reported by LaPolitics. This poll (done by a GOP candidate in the race) says that a majority of those contacted don't want Edwards to be a Congressman. That's a reverse of another poll done a few weeks ago, but hey, poll results like Louisiana weather -- give 'em a few minutes, they'll change.
APR 15 It's always entertaining to read what white American men have to say about diversity, and this post by blogger Rod Dreher is no different. He's addressing a column by a Harvard student about the lack of meaningful diversity at that university. As expected, Dreher disagrees, and gives us a lecture on how progressives are lying to themselves (and everybody else).
APR 15 Here's the New York Times story on the McAllister (ahem) affair. Giving us the story briefly, it then focuses on the words of regular West Monroeans who were interviewed by the venerable publication. The bottom line? The hypocrisy of the GOP's contempt for McAllister and silence on Vitter is not lost on these people, and it didn't take the writer long to pick up on the racial differences of that (virtually segregated) community.
APR 15 A year after Gov. Jindal sold (wups - privatized) our public hospital system, some of these deals still don't have federal Medicaid-Medicare approval, and nobody has any answer as to what will happen if that approval never comes, AP's Melinda Deslatte writes in this post.
APR 14 Blogger Bob Mann writes about Louisiana's relationship with Big Oil in this post. For years, our government has functioned as "a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Oil," Mann writes, and likens the relationship to "traumatic bonding." That's the tie that develops between the victim and the perpetrator in an abusive relationship. It's an interesting read.
APR 14 Steve Singiser writes in this post on the Daily Kos Elections blog that "outsider" status probably got Vance McAllister elected last fall, but it's going against him now. The same GOP that stayed silent when Sen. David Vitter's name (and possibly other personal information) was found in the little black book of a prostitute is now calling on McAllister to resign for kissing a staffer. (OK, for getting caught kissing a staffer) It's all politics, Singiser writes: they can look morally superior and get rid of a problem at the same time, he says.
APR 14 Here's an interesting post in The Lens about t-shirt shops in the French Quarter. If you haven't heard, apparently there have been police raids on purveyors of horrifying things like t-shirts. One wonders how the police have time for this type of thing when a few miles away young people are dying in the streets -- but we digress. As CW Cannon writes, this debate "reeks of class bias." No kidding.
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