Wednesday, September, 15, 2010

School board candidate Greg Davis has an uphill climb to win the seat in District 2. It’s a white-majority, mostly rural district comprising part of north Lafayette, Carencro and unincorporated Lafayette Parish, and his opponent is popular (we have to assume) former five-term ’Cro Mayor Tommy Angelle. Nonetheless, Davis dropped an exclamation point behind his candidacy last week when he vowed to donate his school board pay to a mentoring program at N.P. Moss Middle School. The program, Learning for Life, is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, a group with which Davis has long been active. It teaches students character development, communication skills, time management and other virtues, all tied to their lessons in the classroom. Davis’ five-year plan for achieving 95-percent rates for graduation and grade-level performance begins with programs like this.

Meanwhile, back at reality, Louisiana ranks a dismal 47th out of 51 (the District of Columbia leapfrogged us) in the latest educational ranking from the American Legislative Exchange Council. Based largely on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, AKA the “nation’s report card,” the ranking is arrived at through the scores on standardized reading and math tests by fourth- and eighth-graders from low-income families. Characterizing Louisiana as one of 10 states “in which you want to avoid being born as a generic, low-income child,” the study places Louisiana fourth-graders 48th nationally in reading and 46th in math; eighth-graders ranked 45th nationally in both math and reading. So, even if Greg Davis’ laudable goals for public schools in Lafayette are achieved, where does that really leave us? Best among the bottom feeders?

To characterize Lafayette’s Mike Spears as a dark horse candidate for the U.S. Senate is dismissive of dark horses — even long-shot thoroughbreds have a chance. But what the Tea Party-embracing, Founding Father-fixated entrepreneur of digital technology and vanity doggy products lacks in party machinery and name recognition, he more than makes up for in chutzpah. Last week Spears demonstrated the audacity of rope-a-dope when he challenged incumbent Sen. David Vitter to a mixed martial arts cage match. Spears threw down the gauntlet while promoting an October MMA event at the Cajundome. We’re certain Vitter will not respond to the challenge, unless, perhaps, the participants agree to don sumo mawashis; our junior senator’s predilection for diapers is well chronicled.

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