Louisiana’s high school graduation rate remains on the bottom rungs of the national ladder — 47th — and despite this year’s Legislative session being largely focused on public education reforms, curbing the state’s perpetually high rate of dropouts somehow got lost in the shuffle.
According to a 2011 study released by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, 8,797 — 17 percent — of the freshmen who entered high school in 2006 dropped out before their 2010 graduation. That figure, known as the Cohort Dropout Rate, is a calculation of the number of freshmen who quit school within a four year period and is considered by experts to be the most accurate way to measure the performance of a state’s public education system.
Looking at the total number of dropouts also is useful in determining the demographics of high school dropouts, but does not take into account the number of students who quit but later return to school. For Louisiana, 56,000 students dropped out between 2006 and 2010, and of those, the PAR study shows that 59 percent were male and two-thirds were black students.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting, in an attempt to curb the state’s dropout enigma, launched an effort last year to put more of a spotlight on the issue in a program called “Dropout Dilemma: Louisiana’s Education Crisis.” The nonprofit LPB readdressed the issue again recently through a Sept. 21 episode of “Louisiana: The State We’re In.”
Despite slipping through the cracks of this year’s education-focused Legislative session, the dropout issue has definitely not escaped the minds of Lafayette Parish School System officials.
As the percentage of Louisiana’s high school dropouts has steadily inched downward, going from 18.5 percent in 2006/2007 to 16.9 percent for the 2009/2010 school year, the dropout rate among Lafayette Parish students has mirrored that trend, dropping from 20 percent in 2006/2007 to 17.1 in 2009/2010.
Preliminary data for the 2010/2011 school year estimates the dropout rate in Lafayette Parish at 15 percent, just 0.4 percentage points higher than the state average. Local momentum to make an even greater change has grown in recent years, first with the creation in 2009 of the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council — a combination of 13 civic organizations and public entities focused on education reform — followed by the selection of LPSS Superintendent Pat Cooper to lead Lafayette Parish Schools.
A more concerted push is now underway to raise graduation rates, largely among students in north Lafayette’s struggling schools, where poverty is more prevalent and the dropout rate is higher than in other areas of the parish. October’s IND Monthly will further examine the initiative to improve the dropout rate at Northside High School, where a new high school principal, handpicked by Cooper, is using a unique approach in her efforts to erase the stigma that less high school graduates come from north Lafayette.
MAY 22 This post was written the day after the second line shooting in NOLA, by Brentin Mock. Mock is a friend of Deb "Big Red" Cotton, a blogger who was shot in the back and was seriously injured. It is a raw, emotional piece of writing, something the writer obviously felt he needed to get off his chest. But it raises questions that can't be easily dismissed, and might give some insight into where the source of these events truly is.
MAY 22 In this Baton Rouge Business Report post, Rolfe McCollister considers the privatization of bus service in Baton Rouge. After decades of under-funding, it is a mess, and although a tax (partially) passed last year, improvement hasn't happened yet. McCollister apparently feels it is time to let private business get in on the transit business.
MAY 22 This post on Bayou Buzz by Jeff Crouere urges the defeat of a bill that would grant modest pay increases over the next several years to the state's judges and clerks of court. The state is in no position to fund pay hikes, Crouere argues, with the pay increases costing a total of $9 million over several years. It sends the wrong message to the (proverbial) hard-working people of Louisiana, he says.
MAY 22 The Advocate reports here that State Treasurer John Kennedy is complaining about a meeting of the corporation that oversees the state's tobacco settlement. The Governor wanted it restructured, and he has some support, but not a lot. The corporation agreed with his plan, but Kennedy didn't, and it appears that the meeting was noticed in a manner completely different than that of all previous meetings. Kennedy's given to hyperbole, but in this case the fish don't smell too fresh.
MAY 22 In this Advocate story, Carencro Police Chief Carlos Stout says the recent federal indictment of a strip club owner is all wrong. The indictment alleges that drugs and prostitution went on with impunity because club staff made arrangements with "local" police. Stout says it never happened, and while his cops do work security in the parking lot, they're not allowed inside.
MAY 22 This amusing post in DIG Baton Rouge recounts an ad that ran on Craig's List recently; the advertiser was seeking tenants for a Beauregard Town house. He knew his market, and wrote an ad that the most ironical hipster couldn't resist. Apparently, he really did know his market, because the ad worked like a charm.
MAY 22 In this post in The Lens, Mark Moseley comments on the rhetoric Gov. Jindal employed in trying to save his tax "reform" package. One interesting point concerns Jindal's use of his brother, Nikesh, in a little story. Nikesh left Louisiana because of his inability to get a decent job, the story goes, but the story won't hold water: Nikesh lives in DC, which has an income tax level comparable to Louisiana, Moseley says. If income taxes caused the dismal situation, it should exist in DC too. Right?
MAY 22 This post by columnist John Maginnis traces the trajectory of the bill that would fund construction at community and technical colleges -- and bypass the Board of Regents and traditional higher ed funding mechanisms. Sure, it will bust the legislature's self-imposed debt limit, but some leges feel that there's more need (because there is more growth) in the community and technical college area than in the university area, he says.
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.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.