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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Medicaid
12:44 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Medicaid Cuts Take Effect Friday

Nearly $52 million in state cuts to Medicaid services go into effect Friday, Feb. 1. The reductions are part of the Dept. of Health and Hospitals’ response to a mid-year shortfall in Louisiana’s general fund.

The cuts include the elimination of dental benefits for pregnant women and a healthy parenting program for first-time mothers who qualify for Medicaid. Additionally, the rate paid to hospitals and physicians for non-primary care services through Medicaid will be dropped by 1 percent.

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Grading Teachers
5:49 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

State Supt. Disputes Mass Exodus of Teachers

The Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana reported earlier this month that the number of its members retiring from jobs in K-12 education jumped by more than 25 percent last year. The spike came after the legislature passed changes to the way teachers are evaluated, compensated and awarded tenure.  

The retirement system’s figures include people retiring from food service, and other non-classroom jobs. And State Superintendent John White says the figures are misleading.

He says the number of teachers leaving the classroom for any reason – including promotion to administrative positions – has in fact remained steady at around 12 percent over the past three years.

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Education
6:12 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Louisiana Gets an 'A' for Education Policy, 'F' for Achievement

Louisiana has jumped up in the ranks on a national education scorecard.

Education Week’s "Quality Counts" report, which combines measures of policy and performance, ranks the state 15th overall, up from 23rd last year.   

Louisiana gets an 'A' for accountability and curriculum policy, and an 'F' for student achievement.

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Deepwater Horizon
4:17 pm
Mon January 7, 2013

Transocean's Battle in Gulf Oil Spill Case Concludes

Platform supply vessels battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April, 20, 2010.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard

The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded off Louisiana’s coast in 2010, unleashing an unmatched oil spill from BP’s Macondo well.

About eight months later, the Justice Department filed suit to recover damages.

BP entered into a $4.5 billion settlement of criminal claims in November.

The owner of the rig, Transocean, has just agreed to plead guilty and pay $1.4 billion in criminal and civil penalties for violating the Clean Water Act. A federal judge is likely to sign off on the agreement at a hearing set for Feb. 14.

Carrie Johnson, NPR’s Justice Correspondent, has been following this case from the beginning.

WRKF's Amy Jeffries speaks with NPR's Carrie Johnson about the Transocean settlement.

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School Safety
4:52 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Jindal Orders School Safety Review

Gov. Bobby Jindal has called for a state officials to look at safety measures at Louisiana public and private schools, from pre-K through college.

The governor issued the executive order Friday in the wake of the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last month.

On the day of that shooting, State Police Col. Mike Edmonson, said his department immediately started talking about making sure they would be able to respond if something similar happened here.

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Politics
5:16 pm
Mon December 31, 2012

New Laws Impact Voting, Sex Offenders, School Vouchers

One of the state laws going into effect Jan. 1 provides tax rebates for donations to organizations that will pay private and parochial school tuition for students from low and moderate-income families wanting to escape under-performing public schools. The rebates come into play barely a month after a state judge ruled a similar voucher program couldn’t be paid for through the formula for funding public schools.

Louisianians will also be able to check boxes on their tax forms to designate resources to fighting fraud in the state’s food stamp program.

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School Shooting
12:54 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Bells Ring for Sandy Hook

Bells chimed at St. James Episcopal Church for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Dec. 21, 2012.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

In Louisiana and across the country church bells were rung at 9:30 a.m. this morning in memory of the women and children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT a week ago.

Without fanfare, the bell at St. James Episcopal Church in downtown Baton Rouge chime 26 times, once for each victim of the shooting at the school.

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Environment
3:07 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

EPA Notes Safety, Maintenance Issues at Exxon Refinery

ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.
Credit Frank McMains

EPA inspectors made a surprise visit in July to ExxonMobil's Baton Rouge refinery.


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Tenure on Trial
4:53 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Tenure Changes Upheld in Split Decision

Louisiana Federation of Teachers president Steve Monaghan (far left) speaking with reporters outside the state courthouse in Baton Rouge, Dec. 18, 2012.
Credit Amy Jeffries / WRKF

A state judge has upheld legislation tying teachers’ pay and tenure to their performance in the classroom. Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed for the changes as part of his education overhaul.

Judge Michael Caldwell tossed out provisions of the same act that removed authority over hiring and firing decisions from local school boards, and required state reviews of district superintendent contracts.

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Tenure on Trial
11:56 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Judge to Rule in Teacher Tenure Suit

Teachers protest Act 1 at the capitol April 4, 2012.
Credit Ashley Westerman / WRKF

Follow WRKF on Twitter for real-time updates. 

Last spring at the capitol, thousands of public school teachers rallied against the bill that would tie their pay and tenure to performance through an evaluation system, which was rolled out at the start of this school year.

A state judge says he will rule Tuesday on whether Act 1 was passed in violation of Louisiana’s constitution.


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