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Two Republicans battling in tough District 8 School Board race in East Baton Rouge

Chris Bailey, candidate for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 8

The fight for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 8 has grown uglier as it has entered the home stretch, with incumbent Connie Bernard and newcomer Chris Bailey fighting it out over new schools, party politics and their respective knowledge of the school system. Their biggest enemy as they approach Dec. 6, however, is not… Continue reading →

Political boundaries stretched in East Baton Rouge School Board race

An unusual battle of incumbents has emerged in the race for East Baton Rouge Parish School Board District 5 where Jerry Arbour and Evelyn Ware-Jackson are facing off in the Dec. 6 runoff election. The result could well determine the direction of the board over the next four years. The two have spent the past… Continue reading →

Louisiana college students carry lower loan costs, but the load is growing

Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- A national report showing Louisiana students graduate with debt below the national average supports LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander's oft-repeated contention that LSU is a bargain.

Louisiana college students continue to graduate with lower average debt loads than graduates in most states across the country. A new report from the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success, or TICAS, also found fewer than half of the students graduating from Louisiana colleges and universities… Continue reading →

Number of Louisiana public school advisory committees explodes: Why so many?

The number of public school advisory committees has exploded in recent years, which means education debates rage for months before and after the Legislature grapples with the same issues. One special panel is wrestling with the rollout of a state law that overhauls Louisiana’s special education rules, which is in addition to a standing… Continue reading →

Crowd gathers for peaceful Michael Brown memorial on LSU campus

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- LSU senior Nygel Anderson speaks during the protest after students gathered Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at LSU's Greek Theatre during a candlelight vigil held in memory of Michael Brown and recent events in Ferguson, Mo., regarding his death.

More than 200 people gathered on LSU’s campus Wednesday night to hold a memorial for Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown and others whose deaths they believe illustrate tensions between law enforcement and the black community. A white police officer shot and killed 18-year-old Brown, who was black, in the middle of a street in August, setting off… Continue reading →

Party lines drawn in runoff

Mark Bellue; Jennifer Andrews

Voters in the Broadmoor-centered District 1 of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board will decide on Dec. 6 whether a Republican insurance executive or a Democratic deputy director of a statewide teachers association will represent them on the board. Mark Bellue was 189 votes short of victory in the Nov. 4 election, while Jennifer Andrews earned… Continue reading →

Critics hopeful influential panel will suggest major changes to Bobby Jindal-backed teacher-evaluation law

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Four years after the state overhauled the way teachers are evaluated, critics hope to reopen the debate and trim the weight given to student test scores. Some of the same officials who vehemently opposed the law pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal say they hope that an influential panel studying the issue will recommend major… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge School Board tries to save money to build school in southeast part of city, stave off St. George effort

In hopes of saving money that could help pay for a new school that would be in what is now the proposed city of St. George, the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board on Thursday put off plans to spend $6.2 million renovating two elementary schools in 2016. The School Board voted 8-2 to delay approval of… Continue reading →

Audit: EBR school system in black, but fiscal problems loom

Annual audits -- Advocate graphic

After years of bad financial news, the East Baton Rouge Parish school system is in the black for the second year in a row, raising more in revenue than it’s spending and increasing its reserves as a result. On the downside, though, spending is currently growing at a faster pace than revenue, largely due to the… Continue reading →

Tangipahoa Parish School Board looks to desegregation plan

Tangipahoa Parish school officials agreed Tuesday to an action plan for complying with the parish’s desegregation orders for student assignment, infrastructure, long-term financing and teacher employment. The School Board did not discuss the plan publicly Tuesday night, after spending more than an hour in executive session hammering out the details, but… Continue reading →

MFP changes will not include new pre-K dollars, educators say

State education leaders said Tuesday that it makes no sense to push for new spending on pre-K classes next year through Louisiana’s chief source of public school aid. “It’s a very complex issue to solve,” said Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The state is overhauling its pre-K setup, Continue reading →

ACLU accuses school bus driver of telling teen homosexuality is a ‘sin,’ headed to hell unless he repents

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Buses, loaded with students, leave Broadmoor High School at the end of the school day on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

A 16-year-old male Broadmoor High student was cornered by a bus driver who told him that homosexuality is a sin and that he was going to hell unless he repented his “sinful ways,” the ACLU said Tuesday while calling on the East Baton Rouge Parish school system to take further action. In Continue reading →

LSU breaks ground on engineering expansion

Rendering provided by LSUPatrick F. Taylor Hall, home of the LSU College of Engineering, is illustrated. The expansion and renovation will be completed by the fall of 2017.

LSU is embarking on a $110 million renovation and expansion of its main engineering building — one of the school’s largest nonathletic projects ever and yet another indication of Louisiana’s ongoing efforts to meet workforce demands in related fields. But Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that he couldn’t speculate what impact Louisiana’s looming state budget cuts could… Continue reading →

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg writing checks to influence East Baton Rouge school board races

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

Eleven days before the Nov. 4 election, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg gave $100,000 to a newly formed group that is trying to tip the balance in the battle for control of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board. Two $2,500 Bloomberg checks for individual candidates came soon after, helping a candidate… Continue reading →

'Really a major concern:' Obamacare forces Louisiana public schools to scramble for substitute teachers

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY PATRICK DENNS -- Louisiana School Boards Association Executive Director Scott Richard speaks at the Press Club of Baton Rouge in this October 2013 Advocate file photo.

Louisiana public school superintendents are having to scramble for substitute teachers or offer costly health insurance to part-time workers because of the Affordable Care Act. “It absolutely is an issue,” said Patricia Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish school system and former president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. Worries about running afoul of the… Continue reading →

LSU audit still not released

LSU has not yet released the full third-party audits of its Alumni Association, but a letter from the auditing firm confirms it found no evidence of irregularities or misspent funds. “The LSU community, and all friends and supporters of the Alumni Association, should find great comfort in the fact that two independent reviews by well-established and… Continue reading →

Former LSU chancellor Sean O'Keefe appointed Syracuse professor

Advocate Staff Photo by LIZ CONDO -- Former LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe is shown in this January 2008 Advocate file photo.

Former LSU Chancellor Sean O’Keefe has been appointed to a prestigious professorship role at Syracuse University. O’Keefe, who led LSU’s flagship for three years, is a former NASA administrator and New Orleans native. He resigned from LSU in 2008. He is the 17th person in Syracuse’s history to be awarded the title of… Continue reading →

Claiborne Elementary honored as one of 15 buildings nationwide achieving outstanding energy efficiency

Advocate file photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK -- Claiborne Elementary 5th grade teacher Allysia Cleveland pulls classroom through the lobby on her way to set up her new classroom at the new 94,698 square foot school. The $17.2-million school will house up to 825 students in grades Pre-K through 5.

Months after honoring Claiborne Elementary School in Baton Rouge for cutting nearly in half its energy usage, the EPA is yet again promoting Claiborne’s energy-conserving prowess. The federal agency’s Energy Star program is pointing to Claiborne as one of 15 commercial buildings nationwide that over the past 15 years — since the implementation of Energy Star… Continue reading →

Common Core opponents turn to grassroots effort


While students and teachers settle into using the Common Core, a group of lawmakers is trying to build grassroots support for stripping the multistate education standards from Louisiana’s public school classrooms. The lawmakers are holding town hall meetings around the state, seeking to turn opposition into momentum for a planned push in next year’s legislative session to… Continue reading →

Former Arab League ambassador to speak at LSU

A former Arab League ambassador to the United States and United Nations will discuss Middle East politics, the consequences of the Arab Spring and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict during a public event at LSU on Thursday. Clovis Maksoud, now a professor of international relations at American University, is slated to lead a similar talk at the University of… Continue reading →

EBR School Board races draw scattered attacks

The fight for control of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board has grown ugly at times, especially in the three races that have gone into overtime and that voters will settle on Dec. 6. Six incumbents have already cruised to re-election, producing a 3-3 split between board members supported and board members opposed by… Continue reading →

ExxonMobil provides $275,000 to East Baton Rouge Parish schools for special teacher training

Advocate staff photo by ANGELA MAJOR -- East Baton Rouge Parish students participate in Science Days put on by ExxonMobil and the Louisiana Art & Science Museum (LASM) on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. This event preceded the announcement that the ExxonMobil Foundation has partnered with the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) and is committing $275,000 to the foundation for the East Baton Rouge Parish School System in order to bring NMSI programs to over 350 Baton Rouge teachers.

ExxonMobil announced Monday it will spend $275,000 to pay for up to 350 math, science and English teachers in East Baton Rouge Parish public middle and high schools to undergo training next summer. The goal is to help high school students master these subjects so they can earn college credit via Advanced Placement courses, earn… Continue reading →

Latest health insurance plan could hurt public schools, official says

The Jindal administration’s latest plan to stabilize the state health insurance system could trigger more crowded public school classrooms and crippling cuts in dollars for school technology and other areas, officials said Monday. “It obviously will affect the classroom at some point or another, and that is what we always try to prevent,” said Continue reading →

Efforts to avoid Obamacare penalties said to be causing ‘havoc’ at East Baton Rouge public schools

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board office.

Substitute teachers in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools can’t work more than 29 hours a week these days as part of an effort to avoid having to pay federal penalties, starting in 2015, for not providing health insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week. Several School Board members jumped on the issue… Continue reading →

Southern University system sets out search for new leader

Rev. Joe R. Gant Jr.

The search committee tasked with finding a potential new leader for the Southern University System hopes to have recommendations for the system board next month. The search panel, which includes representatives from the board, faculty, students and alumni, met for the first time Wednesday and outlined a speedy process for naming Southern System President Ronald Mason’s replacement:… Continue reading →

Former students of beloved, belligerant educator begin search for time capsule

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Ricardo Altares, center and Roy Curry, right uses picks and shovels while trying to find a time capsule a group of students buried on Westdale Middle School grounds 20 years ago. Joe Howell, blue shirt, center, back,  from the East Baton Rouge School Board Maintenance Department, watches the proceedings.

Students of maverick educator Ted DeMuro, who died Sept. 26, are digging up memories of the man they say turned them on to learning in a way no one other teacher did. “No school I went to taught anything like Doc did,” Roy Curry recalled of the educator his former students refer to by his affectionate… Continue reading →

Vandals paint racial slurs, other graffiti on Tara High School buildings

Tara High Racist Graffiti

Authorities are trying to determine who spray-painted racist graffiti over the weekend on buildings near the baseball field at Tara High School. The vandalism is being investigated by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office as a damage to property incident, but those responsible could face other charges, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks. School administrators… Continue reading →

EBR school board candidates’ message undercut by campaign developments

The two best-funded Republican candidates in the District 8 East Baton Rouge School Board race tout their credentials as strong conservatives. But their message is getting undercut by campaign developments. In the case of Chris Bailey, it’s an endorsement by a prominent and politically active local Democrat, Cleo Fields. Meanwhile, incumbent Connie Bernard, who is seeking… Continue reading →

Opponents say St. George school district would force construction of more schools than proponents plan

The formation of a St. George independent school district would force more than 6,000 kids to change schools — up to 20 percent of the students in the parish school system — and St. George leaders would have to build as many as eight new elementary schools to handle the influx, according to an analysis released Saturday by… Continue reading →

Pencil and paper, not computers, for Common Core tests

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White speaks in the cafeteria of the W.D. & Mary Baker Smith Career Center on Monday morning. White was visiting schools around Lafayette Parish as part of his Louisiana Believes tour.

Reversing plans, the state will rely on pencil and paper rather than computers when the first round of Common Core tests is given next spring, officials announced Friday. State Superintendent of Education John White previously said students in grades five through eight would use computers to see what they know about the new standards in… Continue reading →

Grambling leader talks plan to address deficit

Facing a more than $3 million deficit, Grambling State University plans to increase faculty teaching loads while requiring furloughs, provide incentives for 15 faculty members to retire and possibly even shutter the Grambling Laboratory Schools. Interim President Cynthia Warrick announced the drastic measures to help cash-strapped Grambling regain sound financial footing during a meeting with faculty and… Continue reading →

Southern’s Human Jukebox picked to perform in Atlanta

Southern University’s “Human Jukebox” marching band will perform for thousands in Atlanta early next year as part of the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase. The university will receive a $20,000 grant from Honda to support music education programs, plus travel to and hotel accommodations in Atlanta, as one of eight bands participating in… Continue reading →