Written by The Independent Staff
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Public Affairs Research Council, a Baton Rouge-based good government group, has the reputation and resources to weigh in on education in Louisiana. So when PAR last week released a detailed research report identifying best practices among charter schools that can also be applied to the traditional public school system, we listened. PAR’s recommendations fall into five broad categories: clearly defined expectations; data-centric instruction; student enrichment including extended school days; teacher support and development; and school boards that are focused on policy. PAR acknowledges that public school systems are frequently suspicious of and even hostile to charter schools, and also offers recommendations to help the state Department of Education build a bridge between charter schools and traditional public schools. Each has something to bring to the table. Hopefully the DOE is reading this report.

The Lafayette Parish School System’s announcement last week that it has withdrawn as a member of the Lafayette Parish Public Education Stakeholders Council is a setback for a laudable enterprise: improving education for the parish’s 31,000 public-school students. LaPESC is a consortium of civic organizations including the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Acadiana, UL and 100 Black Men. But the LPSS — professionals from inside the school system — was a critical component that has now been lost. The school system backed out due to concerns that LaPESC will seek to influence this fall’s school board elections; the Lafayette Parish School Board is the governing body of the school system. We understand the LPSS’ concern. Its representatives were placed in an awkward position. But as it stands, the LaPESC is now an outsider looking in, and we as a parish run the risk of escalating tension between community stakeholders and an already embattled school system.


And the Oscar goes to ... Bryant Benoit, for best leading actor in a dramedy. According to the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office, which recently had to dispatch deputies to Gueydan to bring Benoit back for some judicial medicine, the 30-year-old has now been arrested eight times in connection with a 2007 second-offense DWI conviction in Lafayette, mostly for skipping subsequent court appearances. City Marshal Nickey Picard says Benoit has used several ruses to avoid returning to Lafayette for court dates — he has 180 hours of community service remaining from the 2007 conviction — including on three occasions fabricating letters on an energy company letterhead and faxing them to Lafayette City Court indicating he was offshore and just couldn’t get up here for his court appearance. As of this writing, Benoit is still vacationing in the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, three square and a hot shower compliments of taxpayers.

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