WRKF News

Sex Ed in the Community, If Not Schools

Mar 30, 2015
Lori Lauve/Flickr

As state law restricts sexual education curriculum, and who can teach it in schools, community organizations are taking up the task.

Earlier this year, an HIV advocacy group in Baton Rouge launched a program called Fantastic Young Individuals. On March 31, the second session of FYI begins, with students learning the basics of reproductive health.

“Is your hospital next?” asked a sign prominently displayed during a February 11 rally on the state Capitol steps, protesting the planned closure of Baton Rouge General’s Mid-City Emergency Room. With that ER shutting down tomorrow—an unintended consequence of privatizing Louisiana’s charity hospital system—it’s a question that continues to trouble Baton Rouge Rep. Patricia Smith.

We know their public personas, but what do Louisiana’s statewide elected officials do when they’re off the clock?

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell does Elvis.

Louisiana’s top lawyer actually puts on the bedazzled jumpsuit and performs as an Elvis impersonator in his spare time. It’s not a new gig for him: Caldwell says music has always been a part of his life.

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.

As state lawmakers grapple with the $1.6-billion shortfall in the next budget, the House Appropriations Committee has asked budget analysts to investigate each department’s fiscal ups-and-downs over the Jindal administration years. Legislative budget analyst Chris Keaton says overall state revenues have dropped much less than the shortfall would indicate.

“Total state General Fund that we had available to spend went from $9.3-billion in 2006-07, to $9-billion in 2015-16,” Keaton announced Wednesday.

The House Appropriations Committee continues to take testimony on the governor’s budget proposal this week, but something isn’t adding up. When DOTD came to the table Tuesday, Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin started questioning purported savings from the disappearance of 33 jobs.

LSU

Imagine this: it’s a cool autumn Saturday night, and there’s no football in Tiger Stadium. In fact, there’s no LSU football at all, because the state’s flagship university is closed for the year. LSU System President F. King Alexander says the possibility is real.

“This budget reduction is so large, we’d have to furlough everybody for an entire year,” Alexander told the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday.

Dozens of Genetic Markers Contribute to Obesity

Mar 23, 2015

Inside the Human Genomics Lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Tuomo Rankinen points to a chip -- much like one you'd find in a computer -- that contains DNA samples. The chips are designed to read genetic markers, or DNA sequences, that determine things like blood type and eye color, and also risk for diseases like obesity. 

Turning Back the Clock on Common Core

Mar 23, 2015

Gov. Bobby Jindal is serious about getting rid of Common Core, as he made clear in announcing a package of legislation last week.

This is a plan that removes Common Core from Louisiana, and replaces it with "high-quality Louisiana standards,” the governor announced at a Wednesday press conference.

While no one questions his intent, some of Jindal’s former allies in the education reform movement have grave doubts about the methodology the governor wants to employ.

Why do Louisiana’s student counts keep coming up so woefully short, requiring the state to come up with more money for K-12 education each spring?

House Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin led the effort to find out why Louisiana’s mid-year MFP shortfall had grown from $18-million in 2008 to $56-million in 2014.

“When you have an increase in need in the MFP and you have a decrease in your revenue, it creates a train wreck,” Fannin told the Legislative Audit Advisory Council Thursday, as they received a report on a legislatively requested audit of the student count problem.

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