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.

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.
 


A couple of years ago, law enforcement in Baton Rouge decided to try a different approach to tackling violent crime.

The Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project — or BRAVE — is premised by the idea that social influence can be a driver for amplifying or suppressing criminal behavior. That’s how Tracey Rizzuto — psychologist, researcher, and associate professor at LSU — got drawn into it.

She’s aiding the BRAVE project with social network analysis. And she’s going to be talking about her work tomorrow at TEDxLSU.

Brennan Center

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

The Brennan Center for Justice recently put out a report on the effect of imprisonment on crime. Lauren-Brooke Eisen, one of the authors of the report, walks through some of the findings.


There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson, a crime that occurred directly on top of the sidewalk of Piney Creek Road ... It was a crime impossible during daylight, when we neighborhood kids would have been tearing around in go-karts, coloring chalk figures on our driveways, or chasing snake down into storm gutters. But at night, the streets of Woodland Hills sat empty and quiet, except for the pleasure of frogs greeting the mosquitoes that rose in squadrons from the swamps behind our properties.

— That’s how “My Sunshine Away”, the debut novel from M.O. Walsh, begins.

It’s a suspense and a coming of age story set in an idyllic suburban neighborhood unsettled when a teenage girl — the narrator’s boyhood crush — is attacked.

Specifically, the novel is set in Baton Rouge. That’s where M.O. Walsh is from, but he now lives in New Orleans where he’s the director of the Creative Writing Workshop at UNO.


A new series of conversations about what to do with the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools has begun.

“Beyond Bricks EBR” got started in response to an effort to restructure the parish school district and allow individual schools to be more autonomous. Anna Fogle got drawn in to the search for other solutions as the head of a group representing parents of children in the Gifted and Talented Program, which was threatened by the restructuring plan.

But the conversations are much broader than just Gifted and Talented.

Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade with the Interfaith Federation, is helping to get churches and faith leaders involved.

Working Congress
Robert Mann / LSU Press

Robert Mann is sending every member of the recently convened 114th Congress a copy of the book Working Congress.

Mann put together the short volume — it’s just 120 pages — with advice from scholars, former Congressional staffers, and former members of Congress from both parties about how to get things moving again in Washington, D.C.


Pages