Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Greg Davis came within a hair of winning the District 2 school board seat. Lafayette came within a hair of reform. By Walter Pierce
Greg Davis is nothing if not resilient. This newspaper’s admiration for the Cajundome director is well-chronicled, so the timbre of this column will come as little surprise to many.
I was reminded last week of how committed Greg is to improving public education in Lafayette Parish, especially for poor students. Just three days removed from losing the election for the District 2 seat on the Lafayette Parish School Board by four votes — four votes! — Davis was back at the stove stirring the pot. I had the opportunity, along with a few other Ind staff members, of sitting down with him. He was upbeat and forward looking, sanguine and resolved. At that point there was no reason to believe that victor Tommy Angelle wouldn’t be the next District 2 rep on the board, and although Greg and a few supporters were watching the post-election process closely for irregularities — how could they not, given the painfully close margin of defeat? — he was already mulling ways of effecting improvements from outside the system, as he has long endeavored. His membership in 100 Black Men — a galvanizing force in preventing the dissolution of N.P. Moss Middle School — and the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council is intact. His research in educational best practices continues. His willingness to challenge the school system and the community to have the highest expectations is unwavering. It’s fair to say the performance of public education would not be a cause célèbre in Lafayette Parish, as much as that can be said, were it not for Davis’ persistence. He keeps his eye on the ball.
Those of us who supported Greg’s candidacy knew it was a long shot — a black man in a white district, a city man in a country district; demographics were against him from the moment he qualified to run.
Within days of this meeting, more performance scores trickled out of the state Department of Education, painting, yet again, a picture of torpor for our parish, and magnifying our sense that an opening for introducing reform into a bureaucracy that resists it had slammed shut.
Most of us have little doubt that the regime in Lafayette public education, both at the administrative and elected levels, has good intentions. But the school system’s lethargic progress is frustrating to say the least. Lafayette’s district performance score climbed just two tenths of a percent, to 96.5 — a growth rate that ranked 43rd in the state. It is foregone that the goal of achieving a 120 DPS by 2013 will not be achieved, and our overall DPS ranking statewide dipped from 22nd to 24th. Being 24th out of 71 school districts in Louisiana makes us the top-performing school system in the middle third — that’s middle of the pack in a state that ranks 47th in the nation.
The number of four-star schools in Lafayette did increase, and the graduation rate climbed a healthy 3.5 percent, from 67.7 to 70.4 percent. Yet neighboring Vermilion Parish’s graduation rate jumped from 67.4 to 81 percent, a 12.5 percent increase. How does this happen? Why them, not us?
By week’s end, as the DOE performance scores added a dark patina to our electoral lamentations, it appeared Greg might have an opening to challenge the election. Four votes is a margin that naturally raises eyebrows, that begs a second look precinct by precinct. Friday morning it appeared there were enough irregularities to challenge. Hours later, after the registrar and secretary of state’s offices satisfied any misgivings, Greg conceded the race. With grace.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday, March 10, 2014:
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The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
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Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
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