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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Friday, April 11, 2014

Better Than Ezra hosts 12th annual Ezra Open

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Better Than Ezra

Louisiana's reigning '90s alt-rock trio and perennial Best of New Orleans readers' choice recipient Better Than Ezra also has a philanthropic arm. The Better Than Ezra Foundation hosts its 12th annual Ezra Open benefit concert, sponsored by Ochsner and Sean Payton's Play It Forward Foundation, at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 12 at House of Blues.

Proceeds from the event benefit after-school arts and educational program at Hollygrove's Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School, where the foundation has partnered with Young Audiences. The program includes 30 minutes of homework assistance and a 75 minute arts education class. The Better Than Ezra Foundation partnered with the school beginning in 2010, and its donations include a playground, school supplies, an AV system and renovations to the teacher's lounge.

The band also plans to release an album this summer, its first since 2009's Paper Empire and nearly 20 years after the release of the hit single "Good," the ubiquitous hit of 1995.

The event (featuring performances by Better Than Ezra as well as Matt Nathanson and JT Hodges) includes an open bar and live auction. Tickets are available here.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Louisiana Senate fails to pass repeal of creationism statute

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 5:30 PM

The Louisiana Senate struck down a bill that would repeal unconstitutional language in The Balanced Treatment for Creation-Science and Evolution-Science Act, which was adopted in 1981 but ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. Despite the ruling, the unenforceable act remains on the books. As a matter of formality, Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, proposed Senate Bill 70 — which made it through committee earlier this month — which would repeal the language in the law. With only five yea votes, the bill failed to pass. Claitor said he will bring it up for a second vote.

The law will continue to state that "public schools within this state shall give balanced treatment to creation-science and to evolution-science. ... When creation or evolution is taught, each shall be taught as a theory, rather than as proven scientific fact." It also says schools cannot "discriminate by reducing a grade of a student or by singling out and publicly criticizing any student who demonstrates a satisfactory understanding of both evolution-science or creation-science and who accepts or rejects either model in whole or part."

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Friday, March 14, 2014

NOCCA's fourth annual Dish that Makes a Difference coming soon to restaurants

Posted By on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 at 12:35 PM

NOCCA's Dish that Makes a Difference, student Arieanna McKnight's drum with sweet roasted okra, mango salsa and grilled shrimp, will be served at New Orleans area restaurants from March 21 through March 30. McKnight was one of many NOCCA culinary arts students asked in January to craft a dish featuring Louisiana seafood, and local chefs and restaurateurs deemed her dish the best. Several New Orleans restaurants will serve McKnight's dish, with chefs slightly altering the recipe to fit their menus. A portion of proceeds from sales will benefit NOCCA's culinary arts program. Visit for an updated list of restaurant's serving McKnight's creation.
McKnight and her prize-winning entree. - NOCCA INSTITUTE
  • McKnight and her prize-winning entree.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Whole Gritty City marching band doc airs Saturday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This Saturday, CBS will air the nationwide premiere of The Whole Gritty City, the New Orleans documentary that follows three marching bands — O. Perry Walker High School, L.E. Rabouin High School and The Roots of Music — and the band directors from 2007 to 2010. It closely follows five students, some of whom take a video camera into their homes.

Wynton Marsalis will host the film, from 48 Hours editor and producer Richard Barber and Andre Lambertson. It will air at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15.

Read more about the documentary in Gambit.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Louisiana: third highest rate of low-income students in public schools

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 5:00 PM


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.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrate Museum Day Live! by visiting a New Orleans museum (for free)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is among the New Orleans institutions offering free admission Sat. Sept. 28. - CHERYL GERBER
  • The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is among the New Orleans institutions offering free admission Sat. Sept. 28.

It'll be easier than ever to learn something Sat., Sept. 28, when the annual Museum Day Live!, hosted by Smithsonian Magazine, invites guests all over the country to visit participating local museums free of charge.

You'll still need a museum ticket, but you won't have to pay for it. Go to Smithsonian Magazine's website to sign up. One ticket is good for two people, though guests are limited to one ticket per household. A ticket is only valid for one museum.

A list of participating New Orleans museums is under the jump ...

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Chefs rally for Liberty’s Kitchen

Posted By on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Graduates of the Libertys Kitchen program are featured at the nonprofit cafe.
  • Graduates of the Liberty's Kitchen program are featured at the nonprofit cafe.

The nonprofit café and caterer Liberty’s Kitchen doubles as a culinary training program for teens and young adults who want to change the course of their lives, offering them mentoring, hands-on experience and access to jobs in the city’s hospitality industry. This is a mission people in the local restaurant world understand and support, which is underscored by the impressive list of chefs and restaurants participating in an upcoming fundraiser for Liberty’s Kitchen.

The event is called Come Grow with Us, and it will be held June 21, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Cannery, an events hall at 3803 Toulouse St. in Mid-City.

Jeff Baron, co-owner of Crescent Pie & Sausage Co. and Pizzicare, was in charge of rounding up participating restaurants to provide the event’s food, and he’s tapped a good representation of the new guard in the city’s dining scene.

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Louisiana Supreme Court benchslaps Jindal funding mechanism for school vouchers

Posted By on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM

A blow — and a decisive one — for Gov. Bobby Jindal's attempt to remake the Louisiana public education system:

Louisiana's Supreme Court has ruled that the funding method for a private school tuition voucher program pushed through the Legislature last year by Gov. Bobby Jindal is unconstitutional.

Tuesday's 6-1 decision upholds a state district court ruling that the state constitution forbids using money earmarked for public schools in the state's Minimum Foundation Program to pay for private school tuition.

There will be plenty of reaction soon. Scott McKay at The Hayride weighs in early:

This is hardly the victory the teacher unions will make it out to be, because Jindal can merely create a new line item in the general fund covering the voucher program and then cut MFP funding by a commensurate amount. Obviously he’s going to need to have a majority vote at the Legislature to make that happen, and it seems they’re a bit cheesed off at him at present, so that’s one more fight the governor probably doesn’t need.

But while the decision is more of an additional obstacle than a substantive defeat, its timing is atrocious for Jindal — and it will add to the perception that nobody’s minding the store — a perception that the current budget chaos is injecting jet fuel into.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jindal to appear at NBC's Education Nation panel

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Previewed in this week's Gambit, NBC's Education Nation is a three-day "summit" with panel discussions and town halls focusing on schools, teachers, students and job opportunities in New Orleans. All events are streamed live on the Education Nation website and the final half-hour will air on partner station WDSU-TV.

On Friday, April 12, NBC News’ Hoda Kotb leads three panel discussions followed by a closing interview with Gov. Bobby Jindal. Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) superintendent John White will also be interviewed

The “Early Learning: Sowing Seeds for Success” panel features Dr. Geoff Nagle, director of the Tulane Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health; Pearlie Harris, director of Royal Castle Child Development Center; Tony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children; and Jenna Conway, executive director of Early Childhood with LDOE. The panel begins at 1:45 p.m. and will be streamed to the website.

The “K-12: Lessons from the New Orleans Experience” panel features Sarah Carr, author of Hope Against Hope; Leslie Jacobs; and Andre Perry, associate director for educational initiatives for the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. Following the panel, there will be an interview with White. The panel and interview streams at 2:30 p.m. on the website.

“Job One: Preparing Louisiana to Compete in the 21st Century Economy” features Charlotte Bollinger of Bollinger Shipping; Rod Miller, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance; Rita Benson LeBlanc; and Monty Sullivan, chancellor of Delgado Community College. That panel begins at 4 p.m. and will be streamed on the website.

The closing interview with Jindal begins at 4:45 p.m. Events from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. also will air live on WDSU.

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