Couillon: DOE cites unnamed voucher-loving parents
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s inaugural year of the voucher is finally taking shape, and parents of the almost 5,000 public school students enrolled in private schools statewide are so happy with their experience thus far that they’ve offered upbeat personal stories in support of the program — anonymously.
The state Department of Education released final enrollment numbers Thursday for students participating in the new statewide voucher program that funnels public money to private schools accepting low-income students zoned for public schools with a C, D or F performance letter grade.
According to a release from DOE, 117 private schools and one traditional public school have opted to take in 4,944 voucher students who qualify for the program. To be eligible, income cannot exceed $57,000 a year for a family of four.
Amid all the voucher excitement at DOE, the state agency sent a press release to media outlets touting the high enrollment figures, which exceed other private school voucher programs across the country. DOE’s press office even included comments from Northlake Christian School parents who shared stories about their children’s first day of school, quotes that media outlets might have included in their recaps — if they weren’t anonymous:
Today’s announcement concludes a multi-month process to determine school participation and student assignments. Nearly 10,400 students applied for a Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence under a four-year-old program begun in New Orleans and expanded statewide this year through Act 2 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session. After determining school eligibility and slot availability, nearly 5,000 students are enrolled in the program. Scholarship enrollment numbers for the 2012-2013 school year reveal 14 percent of students came from public schools labeled a C, 69 percent from schools labeled a D, and 17 percent from schools labeled an F.
Parents from Northlake Christian School in St. Tammany Parish applauded the program. One mom said, “I have never picked my child up from school and watched her face light up as she talked about her first day of school. I am going to find out tonight if she knows how to use the online grading system. I am so grateful that she is attending there this school year. Lunch was awesome she said and she did not eat alone. Thank you all for making this a good experience.” Another parent commented, “Let me say that after the first day of school, my child said, ‘Mom, I had a great day at school!’ On his second day he said, ‘Mom, I hope they keep me here until I’m a senior!’ I wanted to cry. It was amazing to hear him say that!!”
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.