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Politics
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Voters Consider CATS Transit Tax

Baton Rouge's bus system is in crisis. The future of the Capital Area Transit system, or "CATS," will be determined in a special tax election on Saturday. As WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, the system is facing a $2.1 million deficit in a budget currently projected at $12.6 million. The tax revenue would not only close that gap, but totally overhaul the existing system, and if it doesn't pass? Proponents say the buses could shut down in July.

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Gulf Coast
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Coastal Communities Still Feeling Effects Of Spill

A view of the oil source as seen during an overflight on May 20, 2010. (Photo:NOAA)

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, and causing the largest marine spill in American history.

Beyond the effects on wildlife, tourism and fishing along the Gulf Coast, the spill has had a lasting impact on the lives and relationships in communities there.

Diane Austin, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona, was part of a research team that published a report last year on those social effects. She talked with WRKF's Ashley Westerman by phone about the pervasiveness of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.


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Transportation
12:00 am
Fri April 20, 2012

Voters Consider CATS Transit Tax

Passengers wait at the terminal on Florida and North 22nd. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Baton Rouge's bus system is in crisis. The future of the Capital Area Transit system, or "CATS," will be determined in a special tax election on Saturday. As WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, the system is facing a $2.1 million deficit in a budget currently projected at $12.6 million. The tax revenue would not only close that gap, but totally overhaul the existing system, and if it doesn't pass? Proponents say the buses could shut down in July.

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Historical Sites
12:00 am
Thu April 19, 2012

Neglected Louisiana Graveyards Face Continued Disrepair

Kenny Kleinpeter at Highland Historic Cemetery in Baton Rouge. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Baton Rouge's historic cemeteries are part of the backdrop of everyday life here. You probably drive past them on your way home from work or see the above-ground tombs when you drop your kid off at school. But many of the state's graveyards have been beaten up by hurricanes and other natural disasters, and remain in a stunning state of disrepair. In fact, as WRKF's Tegan Wendland reports, there are few resources to keep them from crumbling away.


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Elementary Education
12:00 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Drop-Out Study Argues for Truancy Intervention

The Truancy Assessment and Service Center (TASC) program aims to intervene early so that kids stay in school. (LSU School of Social Work)

While the legislature has approved Governor Bobby Jindal's proposals for getting teachers to up their game and providing more school choice, an effort to keep some of the most at-risk kids in the classroom may be falling by the wayside.

The Truancy Assessment and Service Center, or TASC, program, addresses truancy among elementary school students, intervening early so they don't drop out later.

Administrators of TASC, which serves students from 21 parishes at 14 sites around the state, pleaded with the House Appropriations Committee earlier this week not to cut its funding.


Cecile Guin, Director of Research at the LSU School of Social Work, helped develop the program 13 years ago. She spoke with WRKF's Amy Jeffries in the studio along with LSU economist Stephen Barnes about TASC and the study they recently co-authored to bolster the argument for its preservation.

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Block Watch
12:00 am
Mon April 16, 2012

Local Civic Leader Opposes Watch Group Patrolling, Wants Change

Ricky Shaffer is President of the Sherwood Forest Civic Association and past president of the Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch. He says he opposes neighborhood watch group volunteers patrolling their jurisdictions.
Credit WRKF

Last week, George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty in the death of Treyvon Martin. The neighborhood watch volunteer shot and killed the unarmed black teen while patrolling his gated community in Sanford, Florida on Feb. 26.

Zimmerman's attorneys have said they will use Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground Law as his defense.

Louisiana has a similar justifiable homicide law.

Here in Baton Rouge, Ricky Shaffer heads the Sherwood Forest Civic Association in one of the city's largest neighborhoods, and is the former president of Sherwood Forest Eye-Watch.

Shaffer says he opposes the idea of watch group volunteers patrolling their neighborhoods.


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Population
12:00 am
Fri April 13, 2012

East Baton Rouge Population Growth Slows to a Crawl

LSU Professor Troy Blanchard. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Five hundred and fifty nine -- that's the number of residents the Census estimates East Baton Rouge Parish gained between 2010 and 2011, according to newly released figures.

The total parish population, about 441,000 as of July 2010, grew just .1 percent over the year.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland asked LSU demographer and sociology professor Troy Blanchard what to make of the dramatic drop off in growth.


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Pre-K Education
12:00 am
Mon April 2, 2012

Expert Says Letter Grades Could Threaten Pre-K Education

Assistant Dean of Education at LSU, Renee Casbergue, says two bills that would radically change childhood education in La. are not receiving enough attention.
Credit Tegan Wendland / WRKF

The full house will consider a bill Monday that would overhaul early education in Louisiana. The bill, part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's education reform package, would challenge child care centers to prove that very young children are learning.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with Renee Casbergue, interim assistant dean of Education at LSU and a specialist in early childhood education, about the proposed legislation, which she says is being overshadowed by the governor's bids to change how teachers get tenure and support private school vouchers.


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Design
12:00 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Creative La. Speaker Stafford Kendall on Creative Brainstorming

Stafford Kendall, Co-founder and Principal of Covalent Logic. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Communications Strategist, Stafford Kendall, says you have to eat pie to design a proper street sign. Kendall, who is the principal and co-founder of Baton Rouge-based Covalent Logic, says she and her employees get the creative juices flowing by eating pie. WRKF's Tegan Wendland had a conversation with Kendall about the value of creative thinking for design.

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Vouchers on Trial
12:00 am
Mon March 26, 2012

In Florida, Vouchers Bring Modest Improvement to Public Education

Westwego, LA, March 29, 2007 -- A first grade teacher works through the a lesson with her class. (Robert J. Alvey/FEMA)

Late Thursday night, the state house passed a bill that would allow public school dollars to be used to send students from low-income families attending failing schools to private schools instead. The legislation, which is a cornerstone of Governor Bobby Jindal's education reform plan, could hit the Senate floor this week.

The voucher program is modeled in part after a program in Florida, which was the first state to try vouchers on a large scale a decade ago.

David Figlio, a professor of education, social policy, and economics at Northwestern University in Illinois, has been studying Florida's program since its inception.

He was skeptical at first.


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