Amy Jeffries

News Director

Amy started her career in public radio at WNPR in Hartford, CT more than a decade ago. NPR flew her in to Baton Rouge to help WRKF cover the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina while she was still based in the North. Here she found her journalistic calling.

After getting a Master of Journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley and taking a detour through online media as a local editor for Patch, she finally returned to public radio and to Baton Rouge in January 2012.

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Insight
3:01 am
Fri April 18, 2014

Insight: With Fresh Analysis of State Budget, Lawmakers Go 'OMG!'

At the halfway mark in the state legislative session, all of the state departments have presented their piece of the state budget and the House Appropriations Committee invited the public to weigh in this week. Next it will be the committee’s turn at making changes to what the Jindal administration proposed. And new analysis of the 2014-2015 proposal shows a patchwork of funding that could leave the state could with a really big hole to fill for 2015-2016.

Robert Travis Scott, president of the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, has been following the developments.
 


Politics
3:07 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Insight: Congressman's Scandal Yields Political Turf War

Vance McAllister, shown in a photo provided by his campaign, will be the next representative from Louisiana's 5th Congressional District after winning Saturday's special election.
Credit AP

Vance McAllister swept into Congress six months ago, elected in a special election to finish out Rodney Alexander's term representing the 5th District in north Louisiana. And already, McAllister has been ensnared in a scandal, caught on tape kissing a woman who is not his wife. 

Now political opportunists on all sides are calling for McAllister's resignation and chomping at the bit to fill his seat.  

JR Ball, NOLA.com's news manager in Baton Rouge, has had an ear to the frenzy. 


Culture
4:41 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Lil Buck Sinegal: 'With the Blues, You Can Express Yourself'

Lil Buck Senegal
Credit High ISO Music

Lil Buck Sinegal, a Louisiana Music Hall of Famer, started playing as a kid in Lafayette on a Harmony box guitar before his father, a cement finisher, bought him an electric guitar -- paid for in installments of $10 a week.

Buck played in zydeco legend Clifton Chenier's band for 17 years, and he says it was Chenier who taught him the blues.


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Politics
4:14 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Insight: Why Does Everyone in Louisiana Seem to be Up in Arms Over Common Core?

On Wednesday, Louisiana’s capitol building was full to the gills with people representing all sides of the debate over the Common Core state standards. Associated Press Capitol Correspondent Melinda Deslatte helps explain all the hubbub.

 

 

First Bell
5:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

First Bell: For Her Youngest, Learning the ABCs Wasn't Easy as A-B-C

Beverly Ortego, an interventionist at Hosanna Christian Academy, with a reading student.
Credit Sue Lincoln

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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LaToya Johnson is the mother of three boys.

Early on, in daycare and preschool, Johnson's older two learned their ABCs and how to write.

"So by the time I got to my youngest and he got to pre-k and he wasn’t able to recognize his alphabet, I was like, ok, something was wrong." 

That turned out to be the start of a journey that ultimately led Johnson to enroll her son Micah in a private school — Hosanna Christian Academy in Baton Rouge — through the state voucher program.
 


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Politics
4:18 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Insight: State Politicians Lampooned, It's Gridiron!

Advocate columnist Smiley Anders center stage and partially disrobed during rehearsal for Gridiron 2014.
Credit Jeremy White

Every year at around this time, with lawmakers just back in Baton Rouge for the legislative session, the capitol press corps makes fun of state politicians — and themselves — with a bit of song and dance.

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Politics
6:03 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Insight: On Ethics, Things Have Changed, Dilligence Needed to Keep it That Way

This week the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana put out a commentary on state ethics policies.

PAR President Robert Travis Scott says tweaks are needed to require officials to disclose their reasons when they recuse themselves from a debate or vote. And he says the state needs to be careful not to create an environment ripe for corruption by allowing even modest gifts worth up to $25, as is being considered by the legislature this session.

The discussion comes in light of former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was convicted of racketeering, announcing a Congressional run and Gov. Bobby Jindal touting his record on ethics reform.


Politics
3:38 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Edwin Edwards Draws Spotlight with Congressional Campaign Announcement

Edwin Edwards is swarmed by reporters after announcing his run for Congress in the 6th District at the Baton Rouge Press Club, March 17, 2014.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

86-year-old Edwin Edwards spent 7 years in Congress, 16 years as Louisiana’s governor, and then 8 years in prison for racketeering. And wherever he goes in the state, he draws a crowd, as he did Monday when he announced his run for Congress in the 6th District.

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First Bell
4:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

First Bell: State Superintendent's Lunch Hour Lessons

State Superintendent John White

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email amy@wrkf.org with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.

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When state Superintendent John White was playing sports in high school, he says the poverty of the kids who lived a mile or two away from him came into view.

"I think there was something always, in a way, powerful, about being in a low-income community’s home court. Because, when you come in with your nice uniforms and, you know, you practice everyday in a nice gym or on a nice field, and you play guys whose uniforms don’t quite look the way they should, or the gym’s in bad shape, and the field is also a soccer, also a baseball, also a something else field, you get a very material view of what inequity looks like."

White found the disparity was something he couldn’t turn his back on.

He now oversees the education of Louisiana’s roughly 700,000 public school students. But he started his career teaching English in a high-poverty high school in Jersey City, NJ.

He says he never considered a career in private education, even though he went to an elite all-boys school — St. Albans in Washington, D.C. — from elementary school all the way through 12th grade. And he loved it.


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First Bell
3:39 am
Mon March 17, 2014

First Bell: Resounding Experiences in Education

We have all had experiences in education that have shaped our ideas about teaching and learning, that have shaped who we are.

For state Superintendent John White, it was that moment when he came to appreciate that what happens during lunch hour is just as important as what happens during class time. For LaToya Johnson, it was the moment when she realized that learning the ABCs wasn't as easy as A-B-C for her youngest son. For Eric Reed, it was when he realized his teammates weren't cheering with the black students during a high school pep rally.

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