Insight

Fridays at 6:44 a.m. and 8:44 a.m.

One-on-one conversations with reporters, researchers, community leaders, and thinkers about what's happening around us in Baton Rouge and Louisiana at large.  Insight probes the big big ideas, and the big picture.

As a teacher of teachers at LSU, Steve Bickmore is focused on getting teachers to expand reading lists to include more books like that reflect their students’ lives, like Jaqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming, Coe Booth's Tyrell, and Kwame Alexander's Crossover. And he’ll be highlighting that at LSU’s upcoming conference on the theme of African-American cultures in young adult literature, May 31-June 5. 

 


The state House spent most of the day Thursday debating a long list of tax increases and reductions to tax breaks. Lawmakers are trying to figure out how to get or keep more money in the treasury to help out higher education and healthcare in next year’s budget. But that’s got higher ed and healthcare pitted against industry.

Sherri McConnell is a consultant now and ran the tax incentives program for the entertainment industry for years within the Louisiana Economic Development department, so she’s been watching some pieces of this puzzle very closely.

 Demonstrators for and against same-sex marriage rallied in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.
Emily Jan / NPR

This week, in the Obergefell case, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the 14th amendment— the one with the equal protection clause — requires states to license marriages between people of the same sex or if requires states to recognize same-sex marriages conferred by another state.  

To that question, Louisiana says no in a friend-of-the-court brief that 15 states signed on to.

Kyle Duncan is the counsel of record on that brief, and is defending Louisiana's constitutional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman in other cases. In one case, the state has sued the Dept. of Labor over a change to the Family and Medical Leave Act that would extend benefits to same-sex spouses.
 


Following Ladies of Liberty and Founding Mothers, NPR and ABC News regular Cokie Roberts has written another book giving women in American history credit where credit is due.

The latest, Capital Dames, looks at the Civil War and the Women of Washington, D.C. from 1848-1868.


Robert Travis Scott
Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana

The first week of the 2015 state legislative session is in the books.

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana recently put out a guide to the budget crisis lawmakers are grappling with. And PAR President, Robert Travis Scott, is following along as the budgeting process unfolds.


Congress heads back to Washington on Monday. Freshman House member Garret Graves has been home here in the 6th District during his first long break from Capitol Hill.

The Louisiana survey takes the pulse of the people every year about major policy issues facing the state. LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab has been rolling out the results of this year’s edition.

Research Director Michael Henderson agrees public opinion is leaving lawmakers between a rock and a hard place when it comes to closing the state budget hole. As for state services, the public gives the colleges and universities particularly high marks. And though a majority still opposes it, there's slowly growing acceptance of same-sex marriage.


Dr. Isiah Warner on the campus of LSU.
LSU

The sciences are tough enough. For students of color, studying science, technology, engineering or math can be particularly daunting.

At LSU over the last decade and then some, Isiah Warner has been leading efforts to help those students make it from high school all the way through graduate school. And it seems to be working.

The graduation rate for African American undergrads who’ve gotten scholarships and mentorship through a program called La-STEM is 86 percent — by comparison, it was just 60 percent for the LSU campus overall among last spring’s cohort.

Warner is now Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives and Boyd Professor of analytical and environmental chemistry.

As an African American growing up in Bunkie, his enthusiasm for science was unusual — to say the least.

Hillar Moore, was an investigator in the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office for 11 years, and a criminal defense attorney for 16 years, before he was elected DA himself.

With his long career in law enforcement, it has not escaped him that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country.

At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the "Star Spangled Banner", that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.

At his talk at TEDxLSU last Saturday, John Gray — a musician and educator — talked about “music as a connector”.

When you hear a few bars of the Star Spangled Banner, that might make you feel patriotic. And, “When the Saints Go Marching in”, might stir up some football fandom.

If culture were a gumbo, he said, music is the roux — the special ingredient that binds us together and makes us who we are.

And he’s calling on his city, Baton Rouge, to consciously sustain its own culture.
 


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