Gov. Bobby Jindal’s efforts to reform the sad state of public education in Louisiana were hit with staunch opposition from school boards and teacher unions during his first term, but the governor says he’s not backing down. Jindal, in announcing his top priorities for the first year of his second term, is focused on more choices for parents on where children can attend schools and expounding on teacher evaluations to link teacher rewards to improvements in student performance. The two measures are sure to keep the opposition camp fiery, and we’re happy to hear he’s ready for the fight. We still argue that Jindal’s backing of the Louisiana Science Education Act (read an entry for creationism in school science class) is the antithesis of forward-thinking education for the state, but his early commitment to inching our national education rankings up from the last rung of the ladder earns the governor an A for effort.
The courts will decide the issue of the controversial ordinance the City-Parish Council adopted to block construction of a waste facility already permitted and under way on Sunbeam Lane, and regardless of where you stand on this issue, that means taxpayers will take a hit on legal fees — and what could amount to millions in damages. Equally troubling is that this issue has the potential to discourage developers from setting up shop in Lafayette. City-Parish President Joey Durel told the council that he would not veto the ordinance, “even though my conscience tells me to do otherwise.” City residents on Sunbeam Lane began publicly opposing the facility in early October, roughly nine months after waste company IESI started the permitting process through LCG’s Planning, Zoning and Codes Department. The site is adjacent to a residential area of north Lafayette, but because the property is in a small pocket of unincorporated Lafayette Parish with no zoning regulations, PZC could not deny the permit. The company’s owners have publicly said they plan to sue if the permit is revoked, maintaining they’ve already put more than $1 million into the project.
Within days of climbing his way up to pas bon status, Louisiana’s education governor had already dropped down to the bottom rung. The website stimulatingbroadband.com reported last week that the Jindal administration prompted the termination of an $80.6 million broadband stimulus project by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Louisiana Broadband Alliance project would have supported the major academic institutions of the state with expanded optical fiber networking capacity — and helped rural areas no private company wants to serve. In an Oct. 26 letter, a grants officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce informed the Board of Regents, which had applied for the grant, that the $80.6 million grant had been rescinded. Based on stimulatingbroadband.com’s tracking of the status of all such federal projects, Louisiana’s cancellation is the largest termination to date, by dollar value of federal funding, of any such project under the Obama Administration’s $7.2 billion broadband stimulus program. U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu blamed the Jindal administration: “Despite receiving the green light for more than $80 million in federal funds, the state fumbled the ball and was either unable or unwilling to complete the project, which could have been a tremendous boost to central and Northeast Louisiana,” she stated. Jindal’s Commission of Administration Paul Rainwater called the grant a “government-heavy approach that would compete with and undermine, rather than partner with, the private sector and locals.”
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