Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This will never get old. The Recording Academy began handing out a Grammy Award for best Cajun/zydeco record just a few years ago, and, as expected, the category has been dominated by local artists, as it should be.
The latest nominees — Chubby Carrier, Feufollet, D.L. Menard, The Pine Leaf Boys and Cedric Watson — represent a mix of old and young, traditional and contemporary, black and white. Establishing the category was long overdue — Louisiana indigenous artists used to compete in the folk category against polka bands and such — but we’re glad to have it and proud that Acadiana talent routinely dominates the category. (New Orleans has a ton of Cajun/zydeco bands and California has its fair share, too.) It just feels right that someone who lives west of the Atchafalaya Basin, east of the Sabine Pass and south of Alexandria walks away with the gold-gilded gramophone. To the nominees: Good luck and Godspeed.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week voted to establish a grade system for public schools. It’s a worthy effort to help parents gain a better understanding of how their children’s schools are performing since the A-F system, similar to a student report card, is more familiar than the school performance scores used heretofore. But applying that grade system to Lafayette Parish schools, we get a stark reminder of just how far we have to go as a parish to ensure our future prosperity. Only one school in the parish — N.P. Moss Middle, earns an F, but 15 earn a D. That’s 16 of the parish’s 39 public schools, or 41 percent, performing below average. Three of the five high schools in the parish — Acadiana, Carencro and Northside — earn a D; Comeaux High merits and C and Lafayette High a B. On the bright side, six schools scored an A, but as expected, the distribution of our below-average public schools mirrors demographics in the parish, with inner city and rural, north/west schools performing poorer than those on the south and east of the parish.

Speaking of BESE, Dale Bayard, the District 7 (southwest Louisiana, including Lafayette) rep on the board, is immune to reason, impervious to science and susceptible to charlatans. Bayard proved his couillon mettle last week when he not once but twice voted against proposed science textbooks for Louisiana public high schools, buying hook, line and sinker Louisiana Family Forum’s spurious argument that the books — mainstream, peer-reviewed, up-to-date, standard curricula — treat Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the science of evolution that springs from it as matter-of-factly true. LFF wants Intelligent Design — the pseudo-science concocted by creationists to do an end run around the Constitution — taught alongside evolution, and Bayard did their bidding; he was the lone naysayer to vote against the books in committee on Tuesday and one of just two on the full board to vote against them on Thursday. Fortunately for our children — and thanks to a vocal cadre of professors, high school biology teachers, students and even pastors — reason prevailed. Give ’em hell, er, heaven, Dale!

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