A new report ("A New Majority") by the Southern Education Foundation found that 66 percent of children in Louisiana public schools come from low-income households. The state ranks below Mississippi (71 percent) and New Mexico (68 percent). The south accounts for more than half of all low-income students in the country. For the first time in decades, the report states, 17 states' public schools now serve a new majority of low-income household students in preschool through 12th grade.
A majority of public school children in 17 states, one-third of the 50 states across the nation, were low income students — eligible for free or reduced lunches — in the school year that ended in 2011. Thirteen of the 17 states were in the South, and the remaining four were in the West. Since 2005, half or more of the South’s children in public schools have been from low income households. During the last two school years, 2010 and 2011, for the first time in modern history, the West has had a majority low income students attending P-12 public schools.
That average of 66 percent accounts for low-income students in rural areas (129,674, or 63 percent), suburbs (93,933, or 59 percent), and cities (70 percent). In Mississippi and Louisiana, at least nine out of every 10 school districts had a majority of low-income students. Eighty-two percent of school districts in Louisiana have a majority student body that qualifies for free lunch, or free/reduced-price lunch (90 percent), the meal program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Washington Post notes that in 2011, nearly half of the country's 50 million public-school students qualified for free or reduced-price meals.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Louisiana consistently leads the U.S. in domestic homicides. Louisiana ranked No. 1 for the rate of women killed by men in 2009 with a rate of 2.53 per 100,000, according to the Violence Policy Center. The state ranked at No. 4 in 2010, and No. 9 in 2011. According to the Louisiana Coalition on Domestic Violence, 81 percent of female homicides are committed by a partner or an ex-partner.
At New Orleans City Council's health, education and social services committee meeting this afternoon, members of local domestic violence prevention and aid organizations presented their efforts to curb the epidemic in the New Orleans area.
"Louisiana is one of the most dangerous, violent places to be a wife, a mother, a girlfriend," said Kati Bambrick Rodriguez, director of the New Orleans Health Department's Domestic Violence Program. According to Rodriguez, Orleans Parish has issued 3,420 personal protective orders (compared to Baton Rouge, which issued 2,088), though only 24 percent of people seeking protection actually get it, she said. Rodriguez added that no LGBT victims of domestic violence have received a protective order.
In the latest update in the case of Tony the Tiger — the Big Cat attraction living at Grosse Tete's Tiger Truck Stop — the Louisiana Supreme Court denied a petition Oct. 4 from owner Michael Sandlin to review the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling that Tony, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger, can't live at the truck stop.
In 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for unlawfully issuing a permit to Sandlin to keep Tony. In April, the 1st Circuit Court of Court of Appeal held that Sandlin can't keep Tony, nor can he keep the a big cat permit issued by LDWF. Sandlin then filed his petition with the state Supreme Court to review the decision — which it denied.
“We are relieved to see this case reach its end,” said Matthew Liebman, senior attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, in an Oct. 7 statement. “Nearly three years after we asked the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries not to issue a permit to the Tiger Truck Stop, the highest court in the state has declined to prolong this case further. We call upon the Department to do the right thing and send Tony to a reputable sanctuary, before we face another tiger tragedy.”
Louisiana ranks dead last and received an "F" grade in a new report from the Center for American Progress, which ranked each U.S. state by its wage gaps, poverty levels, access to health care, and leadership roles in relation to women.
The reports note that "an increasing number of women are either the sole breadwinner for their family or share the role with their partners" while women make on average only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes — and African American women make 64 cents for every dollar white men make.
Women make up 18 percent of Congress, and 15 states have no female elected leaders in the House of Representatives or the Senate.
In Louisiana, more than 22 percent of women in Louisiana live in poverty — while 36 percent of African American women live in poverty. (The report points out that only 11 percent of women live in poverty in Maryland, listed as the No. 1 state for women.)
The state also received an "F" for health care: 19 percent of women are uninsured, while 23 percent of African American are uninsured, and 35 percent of Hispanic women are uninsured. The state also was ranked poorly for its stance on reproductive rights, including requiring an ultrasound before a doctor performs an abortion and so-called "TARP" laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers), which place arbitrary restrictions on abortion clinics or doctor's offices. Louisiana is one of 28 states with such laws.
The report also ranked Louisiana poorly for not having laws that create programs for paid family leave insurance or temporary disability insurance, nor laws that require employers to allow workers to earn paid sick leave.
As far as leadership, 38.6 percent of Louisiana women hold management positions, while 55.4 percent are African American, 36.3 percent are Hispanic, 44.16 are Asian American, and 27.7 are Native American.
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