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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OCT 20 The Globe and Mail, a Canadian paper, has posted its story on Louisiana's coastal loss here. In it, author Omar El Akkad clarifies it neatly: it's "a battle between prosperity and the planet's well-being." Are jobs and money worth the trade we're making? As Jonathan Foret says in the story, Mother Nature may come and answer that question for us.
OCT 20 Remember those great posts from blogger Jason Brad Berry that featured emails and letters related to the BP claims process? Well, apparently Patrick Juneau (who was featured, but not in a positive way, in those documents) ordered a background check on Berry because of it, this story in Louisiana Record says. Huh?
OCT 20 The Washington Post and ABC ran a poll on several issues here, but of course the presidential fields are most interesting. Hillary Clinton has commanding numbers on the D side, and Mitt Romney is leading the R side, with 21 percent. He's followed by Jeb Bush, with 11 percent, and 12 other guys polling in single digits. Bobby Jindal brings up the rear with 2 percent, with only John Kasich and Scott Walker polling worse.
OCT 20 Blogger Tom Aswell quotes two former Commissioners of Administration in this post, both of whom are not impressed with the magical surplus that current COA Kristy Nichols and her boss, Bobby Jindal, have found. There's some pretty interesting detail here about the origin of these magic beans.
OCT 20 Blogger Robert Mann paints a pretty amusing (or alarming, depending on your point of view) picture of how DOA Kristy Nichols and Gov. Bobby Jindal came up with the "balanced" budget they revealed last week. An unbalanced budget would blow a hole in Jindal's "already dim presidential hopes," Mann says.
OCT 18 Columnist James Gill tells a sordid tale of a Port Allen judge facing sanctions -- shortly after he was re-elected without opposition. District Judge J. Robin Free accepted a free ride on the private jet of an attorney who had just one a big case in his court, and also failed to recuse himself from a class-action case in which his mom was a potential plaintiff, Gill says.
OCT 20 The blogger known as Crazy Crawfish is writing about Superintendent John White in this post, taking issue with White's claim that it is only pockets of isolated "troublemakers" who are opposed to Common Core in Louisiana. Gosh, Johnny, that's the best you can come up with? That's not even original.
OCT 17 Here's a weird one on WVUE from investigative reporter Lee Zurik. In it, he's quoting a guy who was in a car accident and filed suit against the other guy who (he says) caused it and is responsible for a lot of medical bills. What's weird is what he was told by his lawyer (whom he recorded -- Huh?)
OCT 17 Here's another document from the BP claims library that was delivered anonymously to blogger Jason Brad Berry. It is written on what appears to be BP stationery and is directed to Patrick Juneau. In it, the BP guy complains about a $14 million bill for an audit BP has never seen, as well as a conflict between Juneau's "public boasts of transparency" and the manner in which he has really operated.
OCT 17 Bobby Jindal's poll numbers still stink in Iowa, this post on the Bloomberg Politics blog says. A recent poll found him tied with Ohio Gov. John Kasich with 1 percent, trailing Cruz, Perry, Christie, Rubio, Bush, Walker and a partridge in a pear tree.
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