WRKF News

Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Repealing Unconstitutional Law

It might seem obvious…when the U.S. Supreme Court rules a state law “unconstitutional”, then the state repeals that law. Baton Rouge Senator Dan Claitor has been trying to get one of those old laws off the books for several years now, but prior attempts never made it past the first hurdle—the Senate Education Committee. This time his repeal bill, SB 70, has made it to the Senate floor, and it’s eligible for debate there as early as today.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 18, 2014

State Ag Budget Under Strain

The House Appropriations Committee began hearings on the budget proposals for each of the state’s departments Monday. Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain is asking for a bit more money this next year, and Representative Henry Burns (R-Haughton) quizzed him about the reasons.

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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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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 17, 2014

Getting That Settlement Paid Could Take an Act of the Legislature

Each session, lawmakers file appropriations bills, trying to get the state to pay what courts have ruled is owed to plaintiffs.

This session, one of the 26 “Appropriations/Judgment” bills is authored by Crowley Representative Jack Montoucet, on behalf of the Louisiana Probation and Parole Officers Association. The amount due that group is $3,722,315.00.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 14, 2014

State Retirement 101

Figuring out how to pay for retirement plans might not be the most scintillating topic, but it’s a growing issue for Louisiana lawmakers. Here’s why:

Just as with Social Security, active workers pay into the system while retirees take money out. The difference between the pension plan’s cash on hand and how much will be paid out over time is known as the unfunded accrued liability, or UAL. In Louisiana’s state retirement systems, the UALs have grown a lot lately.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Education Committee Talks "Empowerment"

Senate Education Committee chair Conrad Appel

The word of the day in the Senate Education Committee Wednesday was “empowerment”, with bills giving more authority to school principals and local districts moving forward.

The “Empowered Community Schools” bill, SB 385, by Sen. Eric LaFleur (D-Ville Platte) would allow principals rated “highly effective” to basically declare themselves in charge — of hiring and firing and over school service and repair contracts.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 12, 2014

There Will Be a Test

On the first real business day of the new session Tuesday, the House Appropriations jumped right in with heavy lifting, as they began combing through the governor’s 329-page budget proposal. Lawmakers didn’t hesitate to ask for detailed explanations about the line items.

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Capitol Access
8:53 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Lawmakers Weigh In on Jindal’s Agenda

The 2014 Louisiana legislative session is under way, with Governor Bobby Jindal delivering his “State of the State” speech to a joint meeting of the House and Senate. Compared to previous years, the governor offered an abbreviated slate of measures he wants to be able to sign into law.

“Our first and most important priority must be to make sure that we have got the best-trained, most skilled, most productive workers anywhere in the world,” Jindal says, regarding his initiatives to improve workforce development.

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