A Lafayette civic group is urging the school board to hold off on putting a property-tax proposition before voters until a long-term choice for superintendent is in place and school system administrators submit an educational plan that addresses low graduation rates, especially among low-income and minority students, as well as the achievement gap. The group, 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette, is also asking the Lafayette Parish School Board to embrace accountability and transparency.
The Lafayette Parish School System’s Citizens’ Oversight Committee last week recommended that the board vote to place a property tax proposition on a fall ballot. Based on the Facilities Master Plan developed by a Baton Rouge planning firm and adopted by the board, Lafayette Parish taxpayers are looking at a $1.1 billion bill to upgrade, renovate and, in some cases, replace aging, dilapidated school facilities. The 21-member COC last week recommended that the board first ask taxpayers to approve a $600 million portion of the overall bill.
In what is at once an open letter to the board and a press release complete with several charts focusing on the lagging graduation rates among low-income and minority students, 100 Black Men makes its case for deferring the tax proposition, referencing research indicating that a 95 percent graduation rate for all students in attainable:
The Citizens’ Oversight Committee of the Lafayette Parish School System voted to recommend a tax proposition for the October or November ballot of this year.
100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette is asking the Lafayette Parish School Board to defer this recommendation until it does the following.
1. Declare who will lead our school system as Superintendent for the long term. Taxpayers deserve to know who will be responsible for the execution of a multi-million dollar facility improvement plan if the tax should pass.
2. Provide the taxpayers an Education Plan that explains how our system will show remarkable improvements in education outcomes to include graduation rates, academic achievement and the closure of the achievement gaps by race and income with yearly benchmarks.
3. Develop and commit to a system of transparency that connects education outcomes to performance and supports accountability through the publication of performance outcomes on the LPSS website.
We encourage our school leaders to reach out to the taxpayers of Lafayette Parish for a timely discussion about expectations over the next five years regarding education outcomes. We believe that this discussion should be led by a Superintendent who is committed to our system for the long term.
Currently, Superintendent Burnell Lemoine is serving on a short-term contract that may or may not be renewed in the coming weeks.
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JUL 27 The news gets worse in the case of the 11th hour bill that added a bunch of money to the retirement income of State Police Commander Mike Edmonson. Blogger CB Forgotston says here that the annual increase was not $30K, it was more like $55K. Also, it was Jindal buddy Neil Riser who tacked the action onto another bill - something he didn't feel compelled to tell us until now. But here's the best part - Edmonson turned down the money on Friday.
JUL 28 Finally, someone has pointed out that the far-right people who scream at immigrant children are not acting as Jesus would. Blogger Robert Mann runs a comparison of the actions of these alleged "Christians" against what the Bible says about their Savior -- and they come up lacking. Big time.
JUL 27 Here's the first of four pieces from Minnesota Public Radio about the horrible legacy of Gilbert Gauthe, the pedophile who also was a priest and used his position to obtain victims. The story gets into the most shameful aspect of that time - the protection Gauthe received from the leaders of the church. This four-piece story promises to be more comprehensive than anything we've seen, because it is looking back from so far. Some of the information here has only been released recently.
JUL 28 This story in the Picayune is a hopeful, happy one for a change. It's about a young woman who faced family problems that led to her dropping out of school. But now, just a few years later, she's completed two programs aimed at troubled kids and has landed a job in the kitchen of a John Besh restaurant.
JUL 27 Columnist James Gill has something for the Baton Rouge Metro Council -- and they could probably use it. He's giving them a piece of his mind in this post, taking them to task for being too (dumb, homophobic, gutless?) hesitant to pass the so-called tolerance ordinance, which basically says you can't discriminate against gay people in that fair city.
JUL 27 When you're telling people they have lost their jobs, you have to be careful about how you do it. When more layoffs were announced last week to the employees of the Office of Group Benefits, apparently that wasn't handled well, blogger Tom Aswell argues in this post. He's also got some info on who gets to stay - and how much they make. (Spoiler alert: It's a lot.)
JUL 28 After three years of revisions, the proposed new zoning ordinance for the city of New Orleans is ready for public review, this post on NOLA Defender reports. The plan is available starting today on the city's website and in several locations in the city, NoDef reports.
JUL 27 Here's an interesting infographic from LaPolitics on getting negative in political campaigning. There are several people who might want to take note - but chances are, they can't help themselves.
JUL 25 If you're not aware, there's a conflict among pro-choicers and pro-lifers going down in New Orleans. Anti-abortionists are protesting in the city this week, but those who support access to abortion have also been active in the city as a result. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow takes a look at what's going on in this clip, posted on Gambit.
JUL 25 Education Superintendent John White probably shouldn't sign a long lease on anything in Louisiana, Blogger Lamar Parmentel writes, because our reformer in chief is now in a situation "from which no amount of his own bs jargon or political hatchet work can extricate him." Lamar thinks that White is going to have to quit, and probably sooner rather than later.
JUL 25 This post on the Wall Street Journal examines the case of a Metairie physician who is making millions by filing whistle-blower lawsuits. His suits accuse corporations of defrauding federal agencies like Medicare, and when he wins he gets whistle-blower rewards - in the tens of millions of dollars. (You can view the story using your Facebook account, but if you don't want to do that, here's an abbreviated version in the Advocate.)
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