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Ed Pratt: The kind of signees we need to see more of

This past week’s attention given to high school athletes gave me a great idea for a special occasion I think would be inspirational for teenagers. The media was eager to cover the annual hoopla surrounding high school football players as they signed letters of intent to various colleges around the country. Their signatures, in some corners, are… Continue reading →

Letters: Marathon runner’s disqualification is justified

Mandy West was rightfully disqualified from the Louisiana Marathon. She had no right to break the rules just because she was “trying to qualify for the Olympic trials.” It is similar to a situation of bringing notes into the SAT or ACT. Just because you are trying to get into a good school doesn’t change the… Continue reading →

Letters: Former warden is a hero to ministry group

Burl Cain is my hero! He came to Chicago in October 2003 with a request: “Come talk to the men of Angola State Penitentiary. They have a question for you and for Awana.” So, my wife and I went to Angola. A large inmate stood up in a room filled with other men. He addressed… Continue reading →

Letters: Expansion should occur after fixing oil damages

On January 20, 2015, Taylor Energy Co., the company responsible for a decade-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico held a public meeting to disclose details of the chronic spill. Taylor Energy was required to host this public, day-long hearing as a result of a court settlement with environmental groups. The leak began in 2004, when… Continue reading →

Our Views: Expanding circle of readers key to La.

Perhaps it’s not news when a textbook company comes out in favor of reading, as a major educational publisher recently did in a new campaign called Right2Read. Even so, it was striking to pick up the latest copy of Education Week, a national journal for educators, and see the words “Reading… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Making nice not getting Gov. John Bel Edwards very far ... yet

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a forum hosted by Louisiana Association of Educators -- teachers and other public school employees sounding off on their education needs.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had clearly hoped that things would go differently. That the state’s politicians would give one another’s ideas a fair, open-minded hearing. That the Republican-dominated Legislature and Democratic administration — both of which can fairly claim popular support — would cling to Louisiana’s historically nonpartisan ways, rather than fall into a Washington-style war. That somehow,… Continue reading →

Letters: Stronger background checks not the issue in gun control

The cold hard fact is that background checks already work. The problem is not that the guns fall into the wrong hands legally; the problem is guns fall into the wrong hands illegally. To propose that “stronger” background checks would make this fact any different would be misinformed at best, perverse at worst. The… Continue reading →

Letters: Recreational anglers need fair representation

The headline of a Jan. 20 guest column in The Advocate asks “Why shouldn’t recreational anglers have a say in red snapper quotas?” The column’s writer, fishing guide Bryan Carter, makes the case that the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council should convene a panel of recreational fishermen to ensure their voice is heard in the contentious and… Continue reading →

Letters: State’s needs matter more than party rivalry

Dr. Jeff Sadow has become a reliably wrong commentator for The Advocate, and his Jan. 17 column on Medicaid expansion is no exception. Leaving aside the benefits of having a healthier workforce with more access to health insurance and care, Sadow ignores three key fiscal impacts: billions of federal dollars coming to Louisiana, millions saved by hospitals from… Continue reading →

Letters: Standardized tests are a diagnostic tool

In recent weeks, parents and guardians across the state have received their children’s score reports, a detailed breakdown of how students performed in math and English language arts on last spring’s exams. As both a parent and middle school teacher, I am keenly aware of the anxiety parents feel about standardized testing and its results. My… Continue reading →

Our Views: New governor, education board need to get along

If you have been triumphantly elected governor of Louisiana with 56 percent of the vote, you can do almost anything, right? Not exactly. You have to have the votes. While many are aware of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ need to find common ground with the Republican-led Legislature, there’s another body where the governor’s word is not… Continue reading →

Barack Obama: A commitment to treatment for opiod addictions

President Barack Obama speaks at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, about the fight against the Islamic State group following a National Security Council meeting. The president said the U.S. military and allied forces are hitting the Islamic State group harder than ever. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last fall, I listened as a mother named Cary Dixon told her family’s story at a forum I convened in West Virginia. It was heartbreaking. Cary’s adult son has struggled with a substance use disorder for years, and she described the pain that families like hers have gone through. “We dread the next phone call,” she… Continue reading →

Lanny Keller: Gov. John Bel Edwards pays for the best at Division

At $237,500 a year, Gov. John Bel Edwards got a bargain in Jay Dardenne. The high salaries paid by his predecessor to deserving Republicans were decried in the campaign as “exorbitant” by candidate Edwards. But the salaries it turns out were something of an exorbitant floor, not an exorbitant ceiling. Leaving aside the bad practice of… Continue reading →

Letters: Give Saints honors to someone who deserves it

Columnist Ted Lewis made some good suggestions for the Superdome’s “ring of honor.” But he forgot about Jim Mora, the first coach to bring respectability to our beloved franchise. He should definitely be there. Now comes Lewis’ suggestion that Bobby Hebert should be added to the ring. Maybe if this was Atlanta’s stadium, but not… Continue reading →

Letters: Checking blood lead levels in kids is vital

Pastor David Bullock holds up a bottle of Flint water as Michigan State Police hold a barrier to keep protestors out of the Romney Building, where Gov. Rick Snyder's office resides on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Lansing, Mich. More than 150 people tried to flood into the lobby in protest against Snyder, asking for his resignation and arrest in relation to Flint's water crisis.  (Jake May/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

Each year, nearly a thousand Louisiana children test positive for elevated blood lead levels. There are many ways children can be exposed to lead — especially in Louisiana. There are hundreds of thousands of old homes and buildings across the state that were built before 1950, a time when lead paint was often used. Children may… Continue reading →

Our View: Support TPP, a new path toward trade and jobs

While free trade pacts draw criticism from organized labor, the profound impact of international commerce in Louisiana ought to lead our state’s delegation in Congress to support a major new pact with Pacific Ocean countries. At a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Greater New Orleans Inc., a top U.S. trade official urged support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: The wreckage of Jindal’s Iowa campaign is right here at home

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Out-going Governor Bobby Jindal and his wife Supriya acknowledge applause as they are introduced during Governor John Bel Edwards outlines his priorities for the state during the inauguration of Gov. John Bel Edwards Monday on the steps of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. At right is Donna Edwards, wife of  Governor John Bel Edwards.

After what feels like a decade or two of pre-election jockeying, Iowa voters finally got to have their say Monday night at the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. And it’s worth pausing a moment to wonder: Did any of them give a passing thought to the fact that former Gov. Bobby Jindal wasn’t among their choices?… Continue reading →

Letters: Pecue Lane interchange would provide little use

I read with interest the front-page article regarding the Interstate 10 interchange at Pecue Lane. While an interchange at this location may be useful, where is the traffic going after exiting the interstate? There is very little south — Perkins Road and Highland Road. How do you get to these streets, and where does the traffic go… Continue reading →

Letters: Overgrown interchange makes entrances, exits look trashy

I often find myself westbound on Interstate 12 at the Airline Highway southbound exit. If you look around as you exit, you see overgrown brush and bush, and a scattering of scraggly trees. The grass (or, more accurately, the weeds) is high; there is no edging work around the trees; debris is littered amongst the grass.… Continue reading →

Letters: School data doesn’t consider outside factors

I had the good fortune last year to serve as a facilitator for Beyond Bricks, a series of community-wide conversations on how to drive excellence within our school system. The data presented showed that 86 percent of the children in the EBR public schools live in poverty. This includes thousands of children who experience food and… Continue reading →

Our Views: Broad base needed for prison reforms

Early in life, the late Chuck Colson was a willing tool of the crooked President Richard M. Nixon, and unlike his chief, he spent time behind bars. In the dark night of the soul, redemption is possible, and Colson’s subsequent career as a prison reformer makes it entirely appropriate that a new federal… Continue reading →

Louisiana Spotlight: Health care, colleges threatened with cuts

Associated Press star reporter Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, La., Monday, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Here we go again. As a new governor and lawmakers grapple with yet another financial shortfall, public colleges and health care services are threatened once more with deep cuts. The uninsured, elderly, disabled and students continue to be the bargaining chips in debates over how to balance Louisiana’s budget. It’s a regular debate in state politics… Continue reading →

Letters: Let's work together to make things better in our community

Since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, The Advocate has printed the opinions of my fellow Louisianians who disagree with the president on any number of issues. It has been interesting to read how many experts on foreign policy, health care and national security, etc., we have in Louisiana who not only blame the president for… Continue reading →

Our Views: Louisiana should think smarter about colleges

In Louisiana, we have five boards overseeing our 29 universities and two-year colleges. At the top of the pyramid is the Board of Regents, with four subsidiary boards. The Southern University system board oversees the historically black schools, except for Grambling, which is under the University of Louisiana system.… Continue reading →

James Gill: Gov. John Bel Edwards finds 'exorbitant' salaries needed to fill cabinet with Louisiana talent -- with one exception

Gov. John Bel Edwards just insulted Louisiana’s new Director of Homeland Security James Waskom. Edwards is paying all his cabinet secretaries at least as much as his predecessor Bobby Jindal did — with one exception. Waskom gets $135,000 a year, $30,000 less than Kevin Davis rated to keep us safe from terrorists and natural disasters. When… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Early signs hint at partisanship ahead

Earlier this month, I wrote a column predicting that, while Louisiana’s House of Representatives is clearly turning more partisan, Baton Rouge is still a long way from Washington. Do I have to eat my words already? We’ll see once lawmakers convene in a couple of weeks, but the first real signal out of… Continue reading →

Our Views: At 11th hour, Jindal appointees play politics with raises

After years of a what-me-worry attitude toward state finances, it’s really not that surprising that top appointees of Gov. Bobby Jindal would plant financial land mines under their successors, in the form of 11th-hour pay raises that the state can ill afford. What is surprising: Given that Jindal’s reign included a general attitude… Continue reading →

Edward Pratt: Cam Newton’s image stirs debate

Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton celebrates with fans after the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers won 49-15 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

One morning when I was a nearly hip teenager, I was with a group of about six guys headed to the woman in our neighborhood who pierced ears. It was considered cool, and “everybody” was doing it. Actually, there weren’t that many. Many parents and older adults didn’t like it. Their thought was that if you had… Continue reading →

Letters: Inauguration excludes the have-nots from festivities

Did you attend the gubernatorial inauguration celebration? If not, then you are probably not one of the power elite, and John Bel Edwards isn’t your governor. In an egalitarian society, you would think the inauguration would be held in the daytime, in a public place like the Parade Ground at LSU where anyone could come. Instead,… Continue reading →

Letters: Time to wake up and fight

Many years ago, we had a president who declared a war against poverty. At the time, “poverty” wasn’t attacking anyone, so far as I could see. The country was fairly at peace. Now we have a president who will not declare war on Islamist extremists, who daily chant “Kill America” and numerable other little ditties,… Continue reading →

Letters: Ted Cruz must clear up his presidential eligibility

No U.S. president has been born outside the United States. Sen. Ted Cruz was born in Canada. The U.S. Constitution is explicit that to serve as president the individual must be a natural-born citizen of the United States. The issue surfaced relative to Sen. Barry Goldwater. The senator was born Jan. 2, 1909, in the… Continue reading →

Our Views: Duck Dynasty hierarchy have different GOP favorites

There is a divergence of political opinion in Louisiana’s conservative first family. No, not the Jindals, but the Robertsons. Patriarch Phil Robertson is in the Cruz corner, and Willie is down with The Donald. “Mr. Trump is a real leader,” Willie Robertson said Thursday, according to a release from the Trump… Continue reading →

Stephanie Grace: Explosive growth of TOPS should serve as a cautionary tale

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- James Caillier, left, executive director of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation; Bob Baumann, with Taylor Energy; and Cody Wells, LSU student body president; testified against legislation that would limit TOPS awards to $3,200 per year. Caillier has criticized the growth in student fees -- which are not covered by TOPS awards -- as an end run around tuition hikes.

Back when Louisiana politicians launched TOPS a generation ago, they probably had no idea they were creating a monster. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing. The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students — named for late oilman Patrick Taylor, whose privately funded promise to help high-performing poor students attend college inspired… Continue reading →