- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

June 20

Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on the Bayou Classic:

A board member of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District said last week that we should rethink the Thanksgiving weekend game that matches the Southern Jaguars against the Grambling State Tigers. Robert Bruno, referring to Grambling’s recent struggles on the field and to game attendance that’s a lot less than it used to be, suggested that Southern should play another team.

But it seems unlikely that the Bayou Classic will change. Nor should it. The game is a Louisiana tradition that brings an estimated $50 million economic impact to New Orleans. As for the idea of another match-up, the Bayou Classic name is jointly owned by Southern and Grambling. Consequently, if it’s not Southern and Grambling, it won’t be the Bayou Classic.

WWL-TV quoted Mr. Bruno talking about the Tigers’ recent struggles. The team started the 2013 season 0-7 and in October forfeited a game against Jackson State. That no-show prompted worries that there would be no Bayou Classic 2013. But Jackson State’s homecoming was the only game Grambling missed. In what was the 40th Bayou Classic meeting between Grambling and Southern, the Tigers lost 40-17 and finished their second consecutive season with a single win.

“If Grambling has fallen off that bad,” Mr. Bruno said, “maybe Southern could take the lead and it could be an earned-in game and bring in somebody else. I just don’t know if Grambling can carry the load.”

According to the head of the management company for the Bayou Classic, game attendance is not as high as it was before Hurricane Katrina, and it’s not as high as it was when Grambling’s legendary coach Eddie Robinson paced the sidelines. But, Dottie Belletto, the CEO and president of New Orleans Convention Company Inc., says, game attendance exceeds that of almost every other black college football classic. Currently, the only classic with more fans is the game in Birmingham, Ala., which features Alabama State and Alabama A&M.;

Equally important, Ms. Belleto said, attendance at the Bayou Classic has been going up, not down. Besides all that, the two teams are now tied at 20 wins each. They’ve got to keep playing. Here’s to many more ties and tie-breakers down the road.




June 10

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a stand by BESE:

One does not require a Ph.D. in government to know that Louisiana’s chief executive is one of the most powerful offices, in its sphere, in the entire United States.

Further, Gov. Bobby Jindal has shown he’s quite ready to sack an official who disobeys orders.

So how is it that Jindal’s call for an end to Louisiana’s participation in higher standards in public schools has been spurned by education authorities?

It’s an interesting quirk in Louisiana’s system that the responsibility for public schools, and the limited regulation and support of private schools, is set apart from the ordinary governmental structure. At the time of the adoption of the 1974 constitution, the state superintendent of education was elected statewide and thus operated from an independent political position; now the job is an appointment, but not appointed by the governor.

Instead, current Superintendent John White was appointed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. White noted that BESE’s members - eight elected from districts around the state and three appointed by the governor - have broad constitutional authority for public education.

That mandate is one of the reasons that BESE President Chas Roemer, an elected member from Baton Rouge, and White can argue that the governor’s opposition on Common Core standards does not bind their actions.

All this doesn’t mean that the governor’s opposition to the Common Core improvements is meaningless. As White noted, the voice of such an important figure is bound to raise questions and concerns in the minds of the public and educators.

And the governor’s influence in terms of lobbying - or pressuring - BESE members operates in the realm of politics and not pure policy.

Morally, though, White and Roemer hold the high ground: The Legislature, despite much lobbying and debate, rejected anti-Common Core bills.

We commend White, Roemer and BESE’s majority for staunch support of higher academic standards in public schools. We hope they use their independence to the fullest to keep Louisiana’s drives for school accountability and student success on the tracks.




June 24

American Press, Lake Charles, Louisiana, on Common Care:

Politics, history tells us, makes strange bedfellows. There’s no clearer example of that than the battle royal over the implementation of Common Core education standards that escalated earlier this week when Gov. Bobby Jindal announced he was ordering the state out of the new tests and academic standards.

A few weeks ago, state lawmakers beat back attempts to extricate the state from Common Core and overwhelmingly passed a bill supporting it in a 29-8 vote in the Senate and a 70-17 vote in the House for the amended version of the bill. Jindal vetoed the bill, but the margins of victory indicate state lawmakers could muster the two-thirds vote to override Jindal’s veto.

Undeterred, the governor said Common Core represents a federal government takeover of education in Louisiana.

“We need to start the process over,” said Jindal.

He’s found plenty of allies, including state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, who has been the Legislature’s most vocal critic of the governor’s use of one-time money to balance the state budget. The confederacy includes teachers’ unions that bitterly fought Jindal’s education reforms over the past two years.

Across this veritable no-man’s land are Jindal’s hand-picked state superintendent of education, John White, and the president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer. They’ve argued that the governor cannot unilaterally stop the implementation.

In their Common Core support camp are good government advocate groups, including the Council for a Better Louisiana, Chamber Southwest Louisiana, Committee of 100 Louisiana, Education’s Next Horizon, Blueprint Louisiana and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, whose president, Stephen Waguespack, is Jindal’s former chief of staff.

Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Several of the governor’s critics say Jindal is on shaky legal ground and has over-reached the authority of his office.

All of this appears headed for a courtroom and a judge to sort out the various legalities. And with school set to open in less than two months, you can bet a temporary restraining order is in the offing.



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