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First Bell
5:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

First Bell: For Her Youngest, Learning the ABCs Wasn't Easy as A-B-C

Beverly Ortego, an interventionist at Hosanna Christian Academy, with a reading student.
Credit Sue Lincoln

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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LaToya Johnson is the mother of three boys.

Early on, in daycare and preschool, Johnson's older two learned their ABCs and how to write.

"So by the time I got to my youngest and he got to pre-k and he wasn’t able to recognize his alphabet, I was like, ok, something was wrong." 

That turned out to be the start of a journey that ultimately led Johnson to enroll her son Micah in a private school — Hosanna Christian Academy in Baton Rouge — through the state voucher program.
 


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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Ice Cream: Red, White, or Rosé?

Louisiana is known as a foodie paradise, but wine ice cream--one of the latest gourmet trends--can’t be sold here without a change in the current alcohol laws. Monroe Representative Marcus Hunter’s bill to allow sales of the new product was heard in the House Judiciary Committee Friday, and members were quick with the quips.

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Health
9:26 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Forced Charity: LSU Hospital System Makeover

Baton Rouge General Mid City

It’s been nearly a year since the state started implementing public-private partnerships for the LSU Hospital System, formerly known as Louisiana’s Charity Hospitals. The plan was pushed as a cost-saver for the state. How is it working out? Good for some and not so good for others—with patients and hospital caregivers caught in the middle.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Rally for Payday Lending Reform

Sen. Ben Nevers speaks at payday loan reform rally
Credit Sue Lincoln

Penny Fisher says she got caught in the payday loan trap.

“I borrowed $300 back in ’95, and ended up paying $4,983.30 back.”

Thelma Fleming had two jobs, and lost one. She went to a payday lender to borrow money to pay her bills.

“And I borrowed $300. That really changed my life because I lost my car. My checking account was closed.”

State Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa says enough is enough.

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Tourism Giveth, Yet the Budget Taketh Away

The Senate Finance Committee got an outline of the proposed state budget Monday, and Houma Senator Norby Chaubert was curious about something.

“I notice that the majority of the statewide offices saw an increase in funding,” Chaubert said. “But I did not see the Lieutenant Governor’s budget getting any bump.”

The Lieutenant Governor’s office, which oversees the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, is indeed struggling to make ends meet.

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First Bell
5:41 am
Mon March 24, 2014

First Bell: It Took a Hurricane to Get this Student Reading

Chris Vasser

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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Vasser was not a good student in 2005.

When Hurricane Katrina forced him to move out of New Orleans and transfer to Catholic High in Baton Rouge, he had to turn it around.


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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Student Data: Private Property or Shared Resource?

Louisiana parents gave the House and Senate education committees an earful last week.

“There seems to be no effective safeguard in law to protect our children’s information from the whim and will of BESE and LDE,” said Sara Wood of Mandeville.

She was talking about data privacy. Seven bills have been filed this session, each trying to prohibit how much individual information about Louisiana students is shared—and with whom.

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Politics
6:03 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Insight: On Ethics, Things Have Changed, Dilligence Needed to Keep it That Way

This week the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana put out a commentary on state ethics policies.

PAR President Robert Travis Scott says tweaks are needed to require officials to disclose their reasons when they recuse themselves from a debate or vote. And he says the state needs to be careful not to create an environment ripe for corruption by allowing even modest gifts worth up to $25, as is being considered by the legislature this session.

The discussion comes in light of former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was convicted of racketeering, announcing a Congressional run and Gov. Bobby Jindal touting his record on ethics reform.


Capitol Access
3:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Parents Mobilizing Over Common Core

Credit Bill Feig / The Advocate

Whether you love it--like Vera Collins of Jefferson Parish, who says, “Louisiana’s Common Core State Standards is vital to making the dream a reality”—or hate it, like Ralph Roshto of Lacombe, who says, “Supporting Common Core is like a chicken supporting Colonel Sanders,”—Common Core is driving parents to the state capitol in droves.

But just what is this education issue that’s polarizing Louisiana moms and dads?

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Capitol Access
3:00 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Abortion Restrictions Advance in the House

Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), center, and Louisiana Family Forum president Gene Mills, right.

A bill that would impose tighter restrictions on abortion providers is headed to the House floor. Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson is the author of the measure, HB 388, which requires any doctor who performs more than five abortions annually to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of his or her practice. That rule is not just for those who perform surgical abortions, either. It’s required for doctors prescribing the so-called “abortion pill”, also known as RU-486.

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