Education

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mardi Gras 2015: A few changes this year for Rex

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:05 PM

A waiter at Antoine's presents the Rex Organization's traditional baked Alaska.
  • A waiter at Antoine's presents the Rex Organization's traditional baked Alaska.

The Rex Organization (aka the School of Design) held its annual announcement lunch this afternoon at Antoine's to reveal more about the 2015 Rex procession, the theme of which will be "Wars That Shaped Early America" — with a special nod to the Battle of New Orleans, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year.

This year's floats include "Washington Crossing the Delaware," "Shays' Rebellion," "Tecumseh's War" and the "Boston Tea Party." Rex's signature floats — including His Majesty's Bandwagon, the Boeuf Gras, the Royal Barge and the relatively new Butterfly King — also will be in the 27-float procession.

One big change this year: Rex will not arrive at Spanish Plaza on Lundi Gras by Coast Guard cutter, as he has in the past. Instead, the King of Carnival will arrive by the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, where he will formally meet King Zulu and be toasted by Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

What Bobby Jindal has stolen

Posted By on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 at 11:49 AM

DAVID KROLL
  • DAVID KROLL

Term-limited state lawmakers may turn out to be the lucky ones next fall. They won’t have to explain to voters why they went along with Bobby Jindal’s fiscal insanity and cut more than $700 million from Louisiana’s public colleges and universities over the past seven years. Heck, the cuts could exceed $1 billion by Election Day, particularly since Jindal seems predisposed to do nothing in the face of a projected $1.4 billion budget gap.

Well, not quite nothing — he is laying the groundwork for a quixotic presidential run. I’m not sure how he’s going to explain $1 billion in cuts to higher education, especially when he’s touting himself as the savior of public education in Louisiana. Then again, the national media rarely look beyond press releases, and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have no clue what a liar Jindal is.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Hard-won reforms in Jefferson schools

Posted By on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Four years ago, the Jefferson Parish Public School System was in shambles. The previous school board had run up a $30 million deficit, nearly two-thirds of parish public schools were rated “D” or “F,” and the system overall scored a “D” — making it one of the worst in the state.

Today, some of Jefferson’s public schools rank among the best in the state. The $30 million deficit became a surplus large enough to give teachers a pay raise, Jefferson schools overall scored a “B” in the latest rankings, and the system is on track to become a national model for educational turnarounds.

What happened?

It started with Jefferson Parish voters’ decision in 2010 to elect five reform-minded school board members — barely enough for a majority of the nine-member board. In 2011, the new board hired Jim Meza as schools superintendent — and let him do his job without political interference. Those decisions changed the landscape.

When the new board took office in 2011, fewer than 5,700 Jefferson Parish public school students attended schools rated “A” or “B.” Today, more than 22,400 students attend “A” or “B” schools in Jefferson — more than in any other parish in Louisiana.

Improvement on the lower end of the scale has been equally dramatic. In 2011, more than 32,000 students in Jefferson attended “D” or “F” rated schools. Today, fewer than 9,000 attend such schools. That’s still too many, but the trend is very positive.

Other statistics from the recent statewide rankings tell a similar story:

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

YAYA to get new home June 1, 2015

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 1:50 PM

JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS

Over the past 26 years, YAYA (Young Aspirations/Young Artists) has gone from a single-school arts education program in New Orleans to a fully fledged youth development organization empowering people through the creative arts. With its ever-expanding programing, from designing arts education curricula for 28 different schools to providing career and college preparation to students around the city, YAYA needs a permanent, consolidated home. 

Today, Sept. 3, representatives of YAYA and its partnering organizations hoisted colorful shovels and broke ground on a $1.3 million arts center at 3316 Lasalle St. in Central City. The target move-in date for the center, which will be installed right next door to the Market on LaSalle, is June 1, 2015. YAYA is working with Harmony Neighborhood Development, Bild Design and Landis Construction Company to complete the project. 

The center will be complete with a glass studio, an eco-arts garden, community space, a media lab and a gallery. All YAYA operations will be under one roof, which operations coordinator Lesley McBride says will make programing easier and more compact. 

Some broke ground, others dug. - JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS
  • Some broke ground, others dug.

Just Say YAYA, a gala to benefit the program's new building, is scheduled for Nov. 15. A patron party will feature a live and silent auction that will include glass crafted all over the country, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the new center.

"The new YAYA arts center will strengthen the neighborhood by providing a place for creative expression for the children, young adults and their families, develop new community partners and provide a creative space for professional artists," said Timeka Junius, executive director of YAYA. "I believe the rich history of YAYA will forever remain in our hearts." 



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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Free ice coffee, tea and cold drinks for teachers at Pagoda Cafe

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 10:27 AM

PAGODA CAFE
  • PAGODA CAFE

Until Sunday, the Seventh Ward breakfast and lunch spot Pagoda Cafe (1430 N. Dorgenois St.) will be celebrating back to school by honoring local teachers with free beverages. 

Coffees, teas and cold drinks (including a delicious mango lassi) are all free with the purchase of food, and the deal applies to any kind of school employee, from daycare to university. 

Dan Etheridge, who opened the bungalow-style cafe last year with partner Shawna Sassoon, says he's always struck by seeing the same teachers when he picks up his son at 5 p.m. who were there at 7:45 a.m., when he drops his son off.

It's hard work, and Etheridge says the cafe wants to recognize that with a free respite from the heat. 

JEANIE RIESS
  • JEANIE RIESS

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Monday, August 11, 2014

CUE on WWL-TV: Back to school fashion under $100

Posted By on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 5:08 PM

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CUE editor Missy Wilkinson appeared with Laura Buchtel on the WWL Eyewitness Morning News today to show off the new issue issue of CUE (tucked into this week's Gambit) and talk about some back-to-school looks that cost less than $100 — head to toe. Pick up a copy or read the flip version online.


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Friday, July 18, 2014

Jindal's 'dirty pool'

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s politically motivated attacks against the Common Core educational standards have become so heavy handed that even some of his traditional allies are calling him out. Until recently, Jindal ranked among the leading supporters of Common Core.

The governor changed his position after the state’s rollout of Common Core last year. Many students, teachers and parents complained that the new curricula were confusing, even controversial. That led to a groundswell on the far right, which was all it took to get Jindal to switch sides.

Anti-Common Core forces were all set to wage war on the initiative during the spring legislative session, but Jindal was a no-show each time a bill to weaken or kill the program came up. (That spoke volumes about the sincerity of Jindal’s newfound opposition.) After the session ended, he tried to gut the initiative administratively — and unilaterally — by going after the standardized test that is part of the Common Core program.

The governor claimed the state Board of Elementary and Second Education (BESE), which is constitutionally empowered to set education policy, failed to follow proper procurement procedures in buying the so-called PARCC test. That test was set to be used this academic year, which begins in a few weeks. With great fanfare, Jindal issued an executive order instructing his underlings not to pay for the test, arguing it was purchased illegally. That created a constitutional standoff with BESE — and threw Louisiana public education into disarray on the eve of the coming school year.

Jindal met last week with state Education Superintendent John White to discuss the impasse, to no avail. White, like most BESE members, supports Common Core. After the meeting, the governor’s top aide told reporters that Jindal’s main concern is Louisiana’s “history of public corruption” — a thinly veiled accusation that BESE and White broke the law in buying the PARCC test.

That caused even some of Jindal’s allies to gag.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Bobby Jindal's shadow plays

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 11:50 AM

CHERYL GERBER
  • CHERYL GERBER

I’ve been trying for some time to find an appropriate metaphor to capture the shallowness of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s political narrative. I’ve settled on the image of him as an ancient puppet master conducting a shadow play.

Shadow plays were a popular form of entertainment and storytelling in primitive cultures. Things were kept simple — often a single puppet master would manipulate two-dimensional cutout characters to cast shadows on a scrim — so that the masses could easily comprehend the artless tale.

From his flimsy ethics reform “gold standard” in 2008 to his deceitful annual budgets built on one-time revenues, from his emasculation of higher education funding to his (federally rejected) plan to privatize Louisiana’s public hospitals, from his refusal to expand Medicaid to his recent flip-flop on Common Core — Jindal’s major policies consistently lack depth and substance. They are mere shadows on a wall.

But they make for good political theater, particularly among his easily beguiled followers.

Recognizing Jindal’s shadow plays for what they are requires people to stop suspending disbelief, to turn away from the scrim and look coldly at the guy manipulating shadows and light — and at the rest of the political landscape, which grows uglier by the day.

Ah, there’s the rub. The whole point of a shadow play, or any other play, is for people to escape life’s complications and just be entertained. That’s as true in politics as it is in life, and so Jindal keeps giving us shadow plays instead of reality. He knows what his public wants.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Y@ Speak: chicken boxing or boxed chicken

Posted By on Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 12:41 PM


Which do you prefer? Mild or spicy? Boxed or boxing? This week New Orleans asks the tough questions: Common Core or not? Where do all the vape stores come from? Would you like a weed lollipop? What is soccer?

Your questions answered, kind of, in this week's Y@ Speak.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Bobby Jindal, fellow traveler

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

In the 1950s, when Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy convened hearings to root out Communists and their sympathizers from government, the military, the media and the entertainment industry, the term “fellow traveler” came into vogue. As used by McCarthy and his fellow demagogues, it described someone they suspected was sympathetic to Communist goals without actually joining the Communist Party.

  While charges of creeping Communism may seem as antiquated today as Sputnik or tail fins on automobiles, that term is now being thrown around by some opponents of the Common Core educational standards. Some even call the standards “Commie Core.” Sadly, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who shamelessly courts the most extreme right wing of the GOP in his quixotic quest for the presidency, has cast his lot with — and staked his political future on — the commie-baiters. How Jindal got to this point offers a stark lesson in modern political demagoguery.

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