WRKF News

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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Energy
12:00 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Candidates Stumping in La. Tackle Energy Policy

An oil derrick in Morgan City, La. (Flickr/giblee)

In Mississippi, they ate grits. In Louisiana, Republican presidential hopefuls have been trying to impress local voters by talking about oil and gas ahead of Saturday's primary.

Don Briggs, President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, told WRKF's Amy Jeffries, especially with gas prices on the rise, the candidates would have been remiss if they didn't tackle energy policy on the stump.


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Education Overhaul
12:00 am
Mon March 12, 2012

Jindal Kicks Off ‘Education Session’

While only a handful of the more than 1500 bills pre-filed for consideration by lawmakers over the next 12 weeks address education, debate over Gov. Bobby Jindal's reform proposals are expected to get a large share of the floor time.

Jindal kicked off the session Monday with a 25-minute speech pitching his plans for improving Louisiana's standing in national education rankings.

"If we demand excellence on the football fields as we should, we should be demanding excellence in the classrooms as well," Jindal said. 

The governor again urged lawmakers to go along with plans to tie teacher pay and tenure to student achievement and use public school funding to pay for a private school voucher program.

The proposals could be voted on in committee as soon as Wednesday.


Music
12:00 am
Fri March 9, 2012

An Orchestra of Laptops

Jesse Allison and Nick Hwang play in the Laptop Orchestra of Louisiana. (WRKF/Tegan Wendland)

Louisiana State University's School of Music and Center for Computation and Technology have teamed up to form a "laptop orchestra."

They perform March 10 at the Manship Theatre

LSU is also hosting the first ever Symposium on Laptop Ensembles and Orchestras (SLEO) April 15-17. There will be concerts at the LSU Recital hall at 7:30 on the 16th and 17th, as well as the Varsity Theatre later in the evening.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked with Professor Jesse Allison and student Nick Hwang about what it means to play a concert with laptops. 


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Music
12:00 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Louisiana Songwriter's Life Story Provides the Muse

Songwriter Mary Gauthier (Courtesy of the artist).

As Mary Gauthier told WRKF's Amy Jeffries, a phone call to the mother who surrendered her at birth in 1962 was the catalyst for her most recent album, The Foundling.


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Agriculture
12:00 am
Tue January 31, 2012

Global Market, Good Weather Benefit La. Sugar

A sugar field in Paincourtville. (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

Louisiana sugar farmers are having a good year. The yield is up, and so are prices.


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Small Business
12:00 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Creative La. Speaker Scott Olivier on Entrepreneurialism

Scott Eric Olivier, CEO of Skyscraper Holding Company.

Lafayette-based Skycraper Holding Company makes file storage products for all types of businesses. But the company started with an online file storage program designed for musicians on the road. Laptop Roadie was inspired by CEO Scott Eric Olivier's own career as a touring artist.

WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked to him about being a young entrepreneur in Louisiana.

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Books
12:00 am
Wed January 25, 2012

Dinaw Mengestu Wins Ernest Gaines Literary Award

Author Dinaw Mengestu (Tegan Wendland/WRKF)

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has announced the winner of this year's Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, which is designed to inspire and recognize rising African-American writers in honor of the renowned Louisiana author.

Dinaw Mengestu will accept the award for his novel, How to Read the Air. WRKF's Tegan Wendland talked to him about the challenges of writing fiction and the underlying message in his novel.


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Education Overhaul
12:00 am
Wed January 11, 2012

Jindal Ready for Education Reform Fight

LSU Political Science Professor Robert Hogan

In his inaugural speech Monday, Governor Bobby Jindal made clear that he would be pushing for education reform to kick off his second term. But while Jindal went on at length about getting Louisiana’s students better opportunities, the speech was short on details for how he plans to do that.


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Culture
12:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

A Shantytown Music Box

A group of artists are filling New Orleans' Bywater neighborhood with an odd orchestra. They've created a whimsical village of fully interactive musical buildings on a vacant lot, and WRKF's Tegan Wendland went for a visit to see if houses really can make music.


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