The Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council (LaPESC) lost one of its key stakeholders this week when the Lafayette Parish School System backed out of the organization. Three staff members of the Lafayette Parish School System — Katie Landry, deputy superintendent of instructional services; Mona Bernard, director of risk management and Angie Simoneaux, director of marketing and student recruitment —had joined the organization after the United Way of Acadiana reached out to LPSS last year. Along with the United Way, members of the LaPESC include representatives from the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Concerned Citizens for Good Government, 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette and UL Lafayette. The group formed last year with the stated goals of addressing the achievement gap, low performing schools and high drop out rates in the school system.
"When we were invited to participate in the committee some months ago by the United Way, we were excited and hopeful that this endeavor would produce real, meaningful community participation and support for our students and our schools," reads LPSS' unsigned statement regarding the split. "But as the activities of the group progressed, and in particular after reading statements in a local newspaper this past weekend, we have become concerned by LaPESC's intent to influence future school board elections. It is our opinion that staff members should not be put in positions to participate in the elections of their governing board. In addition, it appears that some members of this group desire to create a private, self-appointed board to which the system would answer. The system cannot support this type of effort to dilute the authority, voice and power of the citizens of Lafayette Parish."
The statement references an article that appeared in last Sunday's Daily Advertiser in which LaPESC members Greg Davis and Gary McGoffin stated that LaPESC intends to host candidate forums in the upcoming school board elections. The group says it will not endorse candidates but does also intend to promote certain policy issues and hold board members accountable with four year report cards for members based on promises made during their campaigns for office.
"We were surprised and disappointed," LaPESC chairman Greg Davis of LPSS withdrawing its membership. "We were off to a very good start. We have always thought that the Lafayette Parish School System was an important part of the group. We're about to get heavily involved in our program of work for 2010, getting into a lot of discussions about the achievement gap, about low performing, high poverty schools, and about high drop-out rates. So it's going to be some very interesting, lively discussions and we look forward to the school system being part of the discussion. They have withdrawn from LaPESC but we still will be inviting them to participate in those discussions and we're hoping that they'll agree to do that."
"LaPESC will be involved in the upcoming election," Davis continues, "not endorsing candidates, but participating in the public discussion that will involve candidates and we want to make sure that in that discussion candidates are responding to questions about the achievement gap, the high drop out rates and the under achieving schools of poverty. We most certainly intend to involve ourselves in that public debate and discussion and want very much for the general public to know how the candidates feel about those issues."
LPSS spokesperson Angie Simoneaux says the school system has no further comment on the issue beyond its Tuesday press release. LaPESC holds a board meeting Monday to continue its discussions. The board meetings are closed to the media and general public.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.