BESE member wants Jindal to continue Common Core fight

Invoking the Disney movie “Frozen,” Jane Smith, a member of Louisiana’s top school board, said Gov. Bobby Jindal should “Let it go! Let it go!” when it comes to Common Core and the tests that go with it.

“I have spoken with many educators and parents to conclude that these untested ventures are not what is best for Louisiana’s children,” Smith said last week in a posting on Facebook.

Smith is the newest member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

She is also an appointee of Jindal, who has said that he plans to work to get the state out of Common Core and its accompanying exams, which are being prepared by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

Smith is a veteran educator, having spent time as a superintendent of the Bossier Parish school system. She also is a former member of the state House.

After losing a 2011 run for state Senate, Jindal appointed Smith to a $107,500-a-year job as deputy secretary of the state Department of Revenue. For a while, she served as acting secretary. Now, she is the agency’s part-time legislative liaison.

BESE adopted Common Core in 2010 and reiterated its support for the standards earlier this year.

The Council for a Better Louisiana, which backs Common Core, said Jindal’s comments last week that he wants the state out of the national academic standards “are the most alarming he has made to date.”

The group, in a commentary on the issue, noted that the Legislature essentially decided not to pass any bills that would shelve thei standards, which have been endorsed twice by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“That’s why it’s disappointing to see the governor say that he is going to ignore the work of BESE, the state superintendent of education and the overwhelming support of the Legislature and seek other avenues on his own for removing the state from Common Core,” according to the CABL report.

Jindal said federal officials have been too involved in crafting of the academic goals, which he said forces local educators to develop a curriculum pushed by Washington, D.C.

Vitter expected to discuss 2015 bid for governor

A big crowd is expected when Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter speaks at Monday’s edition of the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Vitter is expected to discuss his run for governor in 2015 and policies he is working on in the U.S. Senate, including job-creating infrastructure bills, the Water Resources Development Act and a highway bill.

The Press Club meets in the Iberville Room at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel, 102 France St. Parking is free in the garage off Mayflower Street. Lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m., is $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

The public is invited, but only members of the Press Club and the news media are allowed to ask questions.

Group Benefits not regulated by state

Retired State Employees Association Executive Director Frank Jobert got some bad news from Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon last week.

Jobert inquired whether it was legal for Group Benefits to raise health insurance premiums and change benefits in the midst of the contract year.

Donelon said he advised Jobert that the Department of Insurance had no jurisdiction over the health plan that covers some 230,000 employees, retirees, their dependents and some school employees.“They are not insurance,” Donelon said.

Donelon compared the program to flood insurance through the federal government.

“Like the flood program, people think it’s insurance,” he said. “It’s a creature of the Legislature and was purposefully not put under the Insurance Department’s regulations. I think it ought to be regulated like other insurance.

“The rules that apply to health insurance do not apply to Group Benefits. It’s whatever the Legislature wants to make them. I cannot answer what they are allowed to do or not allowed to do. ... The Legislature sets the rules. If the rules are changed by the Legislature by an act, it’s the latest legislative intent.”

Talkative Trump likes Baton Rouge

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne found himself sitting next to “The Donald,” as in wealthy real estate magnate Donald Trump, during the Miss USA competition last Sunday.

“It was very interesting. He was very engaging, very communicative,” said Dardenne.

During the competition, Dardenne said Trump would comment on the contestants, for instance, saying, “She won’t make it. She’s too short.”

Dardenne said Trump — who is the owner of the Miss Universe organization — liked Baton Rouge and the tax credits the production yielded.

“It was a good investment,” Dardenne said .

He said the state tourism office contributed $50,000 to the event.

“We probably got millions of dollars in coverage,” he said, with the exposure of a national audience to the attractions in the Baton Rouge area.

Alleged assault described in lawsuit

Deep in former state Rep. Woody Jenkins’ lawsuit challenging Baton Rouge’s annexation of the Mall of Louisiana and Baton Rouge General Medical Center, the chairman of the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Party claims he recently was assaulted at his Baton Rouge home.

Jenkins’ lawsuit says that he was taking out the trash on May 22, when three men confronted him, throwing pieces of concrete and rocks for about two minutes. Jenkins called 911, and a Baton Rouge police officer arrived 30 minutes later.

“The plaintiff could easily have been killed or seriously injured or disabled in that period,” his lawsuit says.

Jenkins, who says three arrests have been made in the case, is using the alleged assault in his lawsuit as an example of public safety issues and police needs.

Mayor Landrieu to discuss budget plans

Mayor Mitch Landrieu will discuss his administration’s plans for meeting the city’s looming financial obligations at the BGR Breakfast Briefing.

The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. June 25.

The gathering is open to the public.

More information is available at (504) 525-4152, ext. 108.

Forum will review legislative session

Five local legislators will join the Acadiana Press Club on Monday for a Newsmaker Forum reviewing the 2014 legislative session.

Lafayette state Sen. Page Cortez and state Reps. Nancy Landry, Terry Landry, Vincent Pierre and Joel Robideaux will participate. Cortez, Nancy Landry and Robideaux are Republicans. Terry Landry and Pierre are Democrats.

The legislators will review the achievements and disappointments of the session that ended earlier this month and discuss issues particular to Acadiana. The forum will be held in the Community Room at The Daily Advertiser, 1100 Bertrand Drive, Lafayette.

Lunch will be available for purchase from The Bus Stop food truck.

The discussion begins at noon.

Pachyderms to hear from legislators

The Pelican State Pachyderm Club meets on Tuesday to hear from Republican state Reps. Nick Lorusso, of New Orleans, and Joe Lopinto, of Metairie.

They will discuss the 2014 legislative session, which ended on June 2.

The 7 p.m. meeting is at Parran’s Po-Boy, 3939 Veterans Blvd., Metairie.

The charge is $25 per member and $35 for nonmembers.

RSVP to miltonatebara@aol.com