- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

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Feb. 12

American Press of Lake Charles on teacher certifications and pay raises:

Louisiana continues to struggle with making sure schools have certified teachers. Some aren’t certified at all. Others are, yet they are teaching a subject for which they aren’t certified.



It’s a problem that ends up hurting students. However, there are differing accounts as to how many public school students are in classrooms with teachers who are uncertified or are teaching a particular subject outside their certification.

Gov. John Bel Edwards is pushing to boost teacher pay by $1,000. He told The Advocate editorial board last month that more than 250,000 students throughout Louisiana, or 35 percent, are in classrooms with those issues.

But the governor’s numbers don’t take into account every student being taught by an uncertified teacher or a certified teacher who isn’t teaching in his or her field of expertise.

The exact number of students in those types of classrooms can be questioned, but the state should still push to get teachers more money.

Edwards’ plan to increase teacher pay, along with a $500 raise for support workers, has garnered support. State lawmakers will consider it when they meet for the spring session in April.

Proponents argue that offering teachers more money will lead to fewer uncertified teachers statewide. Right now, Louisiana teachers are being paid roughly $50,000 annually on average, about $2,200 less than the Southern Regional Education Board’s regional average.

Since the 2010-2011 school year, Louisiana has seen an 18 percent drop in students who complete teacher preparation programs.

The state is already trying to get quality teachers in classrooms through new requirements for college students, along with the ad campaign, “Be A Teacher LA.”

Getting more certified teachers in classrooms won’t be a cure-all for Louisiana’s education system. But it will definitely help. Offering more money could give aspiring teachers the incentive to become certified.

Online: https://www.americanpress.com/

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Feb. 12

The Courier of Houma on infrastructure spending:

Federal infrastructure spending should be a matter of such significance that it transcends party politics.

Unfortunately, common ground on the issue has been uncommon.

President Donald Trump used part of his State of the Union address last week to urge Congress to craft a bipartisan infrastructure plan that will allow the nation to rebuild some of its roads and bridges - pressing issues that affect all Americans - Democrats and Republicans alike.

It seems like spending on a priority such as this would be an issue where lawmakers of both parties can set aside petty political interests and work together for the good of the nation.

Doing so would allow both sides to claim victory and, most importantly, return an outcome that is good for the people they represent. Substandard roads and bridges, along with the people they inconvenience and endanger, know no party.

There have been various methods proposed for increasing federal spending. Some have focused on federal incentives to draw out matching state and local spending. Others have set their sights on raising the federal fuel tax and using the resulting windfall to improve our infrastructure.

There could well be other, more politically palatable options to be explored. Raising taxes for any purpose will get a predictable pushback. But that doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored. In fact, as Louisiana motorists well know, neglecting the problem only makes it worse and more expensive eventually to fix.

The important thing isn’t to embrace one option at this point. Instead, the first thing our national officials must do is to display a willingness to cooperate and communicate with the other side. Only by working together will they be able to make progress on something that needs to be done.

The president was right to set a bipartisan tone to frame a topic that deserves to be treated in that manner. Trump will be needed for leadership as the process goes forward. He will have to guide it by signaling what provisions he would be willing to sign into law.

Beyond that, though, the members of Congress will have to work face to face on an approach that can garner broad agreement.

It shouldn’t be difficult to make the point that this needs to be done sooner rather than later. And everyone on both sides of the political aisle should see it for the priority it is.

Online: https://www.houmatoday.com/

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Feb. 13

NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune on a state board reconsidering whether public office candidates can use campaign funds for campaign-related child care:

The Louisiana Ethics Board should reverse its sexist ruling and give House candidate Morgan Lamandre the OK Friday (Feb. 15) to use campaign money for child care expenses.

The board’s decision against her in November was arbitrary and clueless. It also was inconsistent with past board rulings allowing several men to use their campaign funds to pay for child care.

Sens. J.P. Morrell and Troy Carter, both New Orleans Democrats, have said they will co-sponsor legislation this spring to allow child care as an expense. But that legislation likely wouldn’t make it through the process soon enough for the entire campaign season. The Ethics Board should allow Ms. Lemandre and other candidates to go ahead and use campaign money for child care.

Ms. Lamandre, who is running for House District 66 this year, sent a letter to the board in December asking for the ruling to be reversed. … She and her husband both work and have 2-year-old and 6-year-old children.

In January, the Louisiana Legislative Women’s Caucus also asked the Ethics Board to reconsider its decision. Franklinton Republican Sen. Beth Mizell, who is chairwoman of the caucus, said the group’s 22 members were overwhelmingly in support of the request. “It strikes us clearly as a women’s issue, especially since the board had been in favor of it until a woman asked,” Rep. Mizell said in January.

Even the Republican lawmaker who holds the House District 66 seat now disagrees with the ethics ruling. State Rep. Rick Edmonds, who will face Ms. Lemandre on the ballot this fall, tweeted Tuesday: “I hope the Ethics Board reverses their opinion on this issue. I’ve already had conversations with Sen. @BethMizell regarding legislative fixes we can pass.”

The Ethics Board’s ruling overturned a decision made 18 years ago by previous board members allowing child care expenses for a male member of the Baton Rouge Metro Council. U.S. Sen. John Kennedy also claimed child care as an expense during a trip to Los Angeles when he was state treasurer.

The board’s ruling against Ms. Lemandre also was out of step with the federal rules for campaign spending and rules in other states, including Arkansas.

The decision was bad enough, but some board members also made sexist remarks to Ms. Lamandre during the meeting in November. Ethics Board member Peppi Bruneau lectured her on her priorities as a parent.

It sounds like he thinks that women should stay home and let men handle the lawmaking.

Louisiana should aspire to have as diverse a Legislature as possible. We’re far from that goal at this point. The state Senate only has five women out of 39 members. The House, which has 105 seats, has 25 women members.

The Ethics Board’s ruling will help ensure those numbers stay low.

Child care is a practical expense, unlike some spending the Ethics Board has let candidates get away with. Senate President John Alario spent more than $23,000 on a suite at Tiger Stadium between 2009 and 2012, according to a 2014 report by NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune and WVUE Fox 8 News. After the spending was reported, he gave up the suite.

That investigation also found that Louisiana politicians spent $310,000 from their campaign funds for Mardi Gras parades.

Yet the Ethics Board thinks child care is problematic? Please.

Online: https://www.nola.com/

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