Wednesday, July 20, 2011
By The Independent Staff
Holly Boffy, a retired Lafayette Parish public school teacher, is running for the southwest Louisiana seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Last week she ensured that she probably won’t be pulling too many votes from the ranks of her former colleagues by calling for an end to the tenure system for teachers in Louisiana public schools. The 2010 Louisiana teacher of the year recognized for her work at Paul Breaux Middle School — she currently works for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana — Boffy told members of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge last week, according to The Advocate, that “We need to get rid of it as soon as we possibly can.” The position, which is in line with BESE member Chas Roemer’s failed bid earlier this year to abolish tenure, is likely to raise the hackles of state teacher unions, which have energetically defended the antiquated policy. Tenure effectively grants public school teachers lifetime immunity from termination after they’ve worked for only three years and meet certain standards. For most career educators, that’s the first three years of employment following graduation from college — surely an insufficient time frame in which to evaluate whether a teacher will be effective and engaged for the long term. Moreover, while Louisiana has a plenitude of great teachers, we have our share of dead weight as well — educators who should not be in the classroom. Tenure needs to be abolished, replaced by a merit-based system for evaluating teachers and determining whether they’re earning their pay or simply collecting a paycheck.
It has become dogma within the Republican Party that private enterprise always provides goods and services better and more efficiently than the public sector. But when faced with reality, even the GOP-controlled Louisiana Legislature balked at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s push to sell the state-run Office of Group Benefits to a private firm. The OGB handles health insurance plans for about a quarter million current and retired state employees and their dependents, and, more important, has a half billion-dollar surplus — inarguably a mark of a successfully run operation. An analysis conducted last spring by a New Orleans firm, which the Jindal administration tried to keep under wraps until the Legislature issued a subpoena for it, found that privatizing the plan would likely lead to higher premiums. But, cleaving to the dogma or simply spit-shining his conservative résumé for future campaigns, Jindal has doggedly pursued this unnecessary boondoggle, waiting until lawmakers returned home from the session to issue a request for bids by private firms to evaluate the efficacy of privatizing OGB. Over the weekend we learned that Morgan Keegan was the low bidder at $900,000. The administration insists this is merely a means of gauging whether privatization is fiscally prudent. Yeah, right. There is so much not to like in all this, not the least of which is the likelihood that Morgan Keegan will find exactly what Jindal wants them to. After all, public sector employees, by their very association with government, are bad right?
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Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be a way for the company and victims of the spill to avoid years of costly litigation — if all the pieces fall into place.
BP says it recently obtained correspondence between Patrick Juneau's Lafayette law firm and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility showing he argued for liberal compensation, flexible documentation requirements and other terms that would help Louisiana claimants at BP's expense.
The circumstances surrounding the death last March while in the backseat of a sheriff’s cruiser of Victor White III, long a source of dispute by White’s family, have earned an investigation by federal officials.
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With six of the LPSB’s nine members poised for Pat Cooper’s termination, a request was filed Tuesday for a fast-tracked hearing on the federal lawsuit calling for the disqualification of two board members from voting on the matter due to bias.
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Louisiana's Republican Party has filed a complaint against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu with the Senate's ethics committee about her use of private chartered planes.
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An attorney signs up to run against LPSB's Mark Cockerham, and within a week a lawsuit is filed by a former LPSS employee in an attempt to disqualify him. Coincidence?
According to Gov. Bobby Jindal, President Barack Obama needs to stop talking about “justice” and start murdering people, even if we have to go alone.
A replacement is expected by January to fill the vacancy left when Greg Roberts resigned after allegedly pointing a fake gun at an engineer during a June meeting.
The Ragin’ Cajuns got off to a superb start Saturday night, and the Human Jukebox made the soaked season opener even sweeter for the third-largest crowd in Cajun Field history.
The Louisiana health department will follow a federal judge's order and refrain from immediately penalizing doctors who are trying to comply with a new abortion law that requires them to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, a spokeswoman said Monday.
Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
While bogged down with qualifying candidates last month, Secretary of State Tom Schedler didn’t lose sight of the true endgame coming in November and December.
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A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,575 rigs were exploring for oil and 338 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,776 active rigs.
A crew began erecting the 25-foot mini-wheel late morning Friday in anticipation of the evening’s Hottest Night of the Year party at the park.
Frances Boothe of Nunez, who also happens to be filmmaker Stephen Meaux’s grandmother, prepares a cool-weather fave.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
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The LPSB is poised and ready to move forward with the termination of Pat Cooper following a discussion Thursday with the attorney hired for the investigation of the superintendent, but a decision of this magnitude should be left up to the new board seated in January, especially with three pro-investigation board members bailing out come the new year.
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Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.