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    Chief Justice Johnson declares May 1 as Law Day

    The Louisiana Supreme Court issued a resolution urging all Louisiana state court judges to dedicate the month of May 2015 to reaching out to schools to provide students with an opportunity to learn about the law, the role of judges, and the court system from members of the judiciary. Law Day was established in 1958 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to strengthen our heritage of liberty, justice and equality under the law. In 1961, Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day. Every president since then has issued a Law Day proclamation on May 1st to celebrate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The 2015 national Law Day theme is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.”

    “During the month of May, the Louisiana Supreme Court will host school students participating in Law Day activities including: mock trials and tours of the Royal Street courthouse which include visits to the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum and the Law Library of Louisiana,” said Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson.

    On this 57th anniversary of Law Day, the resolution states in part that “all judges have a unique ability to educate young people about our legal system and respect for the law.” Teachers or principals interested in coordinating a Louisiana Supreme Court tour or a Law Day presentation with a local judge, contact the Louisiana Supreme Court Community Relations Department at 504.310.2590.

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    LeBas seeks to ease substitute teacher shortage

    Legislation filed by State Rep. Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte, is aimed at relieving school systems’ shortage of qualified substitute teachers and helping retired teachers supplement their income.

    “This is for the students,” LeBas said. “It’s best for students to have qualified teachers everywhere,” but current law limits how much time retired teachers can spend in classrooms without affecting their retirement income.

    LeBas’ House Bill 43 seeks to increase the number of days retired teachers can work as substitute teachers without decreasing the size of their retirement checks.

    Former teachers collecting benefits through the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana are prohibited from continuing to receive retirement pay if they return to fulltime teaching. Current law allows them to work as substitute teachers and collect salaries up to 25 percent of their retirement checks, but any pay above that amount results in an equivalent reduction in retirement benefits.

    HB43 would raise the salary cap to 50 percent of benefits, so a teacher who’s eligible to teach 50 days would be able to teach 100 days as a substitute without affecting retirement pay.

    “School board members and superintendents have expressed interest in this because they can’t find qualified teachers to substitute when a regular teacher is out of the classroom,” LeBas said. “Also, many retired teachers have approached me wanting to be substitute teachers.

    “Everyone is saying they have a problem. The whole idea is to offer our students the best possible education,” he said.

    Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association of Educators, said school systems are having “big problems” finding qualified teachers to work as substitutes, especially when a regular teacher is taking extended medical leave, maternity leave or sabbatical.

    Because of the salary limitation, substitutes often can work only short-term and “We want to make sure that when a classroom teacher (takes leave), students are not having to change teachers three or four times because they’re reaching the salary cap,” Meaux said.

    “If we have to hire substitute teachers, why not have the best teachers for our students?” LeBas said. HB43 is awaiting a hearing in the House Education Committee. The 2015 legislative session begins at noon Monday and must conclude no later than 6 p.m. June 11.

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  • Funds will help disadvantage kids get ready for Kindergarten

    Increased Demand for Early Childhood Seats Signals Need for Increased Funding

    The Department of Education announced funding awards for statewide Early Childhood Pre-Kindergarten programs that benefit low-income four-year-olds. More than $81.6 million will fund 17,851 children served through the Cecil J. Picard LA4 Early Childhood Program and the Nonpublic Schools Early Childhood Development program (NSECD). This year, 1,850 families seeking pre-kindergarten slots were unable to obtain LA4 or NSECD admission because of a shortage of seats in these programs. Overall, 3,150 Louisiana four-year-old children are at risk of not being served by any early childhood program, including pre-kindergarten, Head Start or child care, because of an inadequate number of seats.

    “We must remain committed to the welfare of our greatest asset, our children,” said State Superintendent John White. “That commitment is dependent upon our assurance our at-risk children have access to these Early Childhood programs which will prepare them for the rigors and challenges of school. Without funding for these programs, these children are at risk of falling further behind.”

    Today, only half of Louisiana children enter kindergarten ready to learn with basic number and letter recognition skills. Louisiana’s pre-kindergarten programs – LA4 and NSECD – provide disadvantaged four-year-olds six hours of early childhood education each day, and have been proven to enhance participants’ language and math skills. To provide families with choice, these programs are offered in public schools, state-approved private preschools and child care centers. These two programs are expected to serve 17,851 children across the state, at a rate of $4,580 per child.

    Both programs are very popular with families. Communities indicate there are at least 1,850 families of at-risk four-year-olds who are seeking a spot in high-quality pre-K this fall, but there is not enough funding available. At the current rate, the state would need an additional $8.5 million to offer slots to these children this fall.

    “The increase in cost and interest clearly demand a need for more funding,” said Superintendent White. “These children deserve the same educational opportunities given to every other child in Louisiana.”

    In 2012, the legislature passed Act 3, requiring the creation of a unified network for early childhood care that would establish a common expectation for excellence among all publicly funded service providers, along with accountability for results. That same year, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the state’s multi-year strategy to implement Act 3, the Early Childhood Care and Education Networks.

    To help address family demand, the Department applied for the Preschool Development Expansion Grant in 2014 and will partner with local Early Childhood Networks to offer an additional 4,600 high-quality pre-K slots to families over the next four years, starting in 2016. Participating communities will coordinate enrollment to make it easier to apply and families will be able to choose between public, nonpublic school and child care settings.

    Still the Department estimates there are an additional 3,150 low-income four-year-olds who qualify for child care, Head Start, or Pre-Kindergarten, but whose families may not be aware of what is available. As demonstrated in the recent Early Childhood Funding Model required by the Legislature, the Department estimates an additional $26 million investment is needed to provide a high-quality pre-K option to every at-risk family in Louisiana that wants one.

    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the Department’s LA4 and NSECD allocation recommendations.

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    Bagayoko secures $500k for SU research

    Southern University System’s Distinguished Professor of Physics Diola Bagayoko,Ph.D., has received a three-year, $503,931 federal research grant to help develop new methods and processes in the field of materials and energy science.

    The grant is from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration. The newly funded project is a major component of the Consortium for Materials and Energies Studies (CMaES) led by Florida A&M University.

    The first year funding for Southern University at Baton Rouge is $153,931 and the funding for each of the following two years is $175,000 for a total of $503,931.

    CMaES is a collaborative effort among seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and two national laboratories of the DOE. Some of the other key objectives include the production of new knowledge, and the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers in areas of interest to DOE.

    Besides SUBR and FAMU, other collaborating organizations include: Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee University, Tennessee State University, Benedict College, Morehouse College, Allen University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    Tommy Rockward, who received his Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees in Physics from SUBR, is the lead scientist for the collaboration at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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  • Lela offering free FAFSA workshops, scholarships throughout March

    The Louisiana Education Loan Authority is gearing up to assist high school students and their parents in checking a major item off of their lists as they near high school graduation — completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as “FAFSA.”

    Lela will conduct FAFSA completion workshops, upon request, at high schools throughout the state and will continue to offer one-on-one counseling by appointment to students at its College Planning Center on Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge. The team will also host a free, statewide FAFSA completion online webinar at noon on Wednesday, March 18, that is geared to parents and a hands-on FAFSA completion workshop in Baton Rouge on Saturday, March 21.

    To register for the statewide webinar or Baton Rouge workshop, to request a workshop in your area, to make an appointment, or for more information, contact Lela staff at info@lela.org or (800) 228-4755 or visit the Lela website at www.AskLela.org.

    Students and parents can learn more about the FAFSA and complete the free form by logging onto http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. The page contains links to YouTube videos and other resources that help walk students and parents through the process of applying for aid.

    Lela is also offering $5,000 in college scholarships through its “Cash for College Scholarship Contest,” with grand-prize winners each taking home a $1,000 scholarship for the best essay and video. The second-prize winners in each category will each win $750 scholarships. The theme is “What’s Your College Game Plan?”

    Three seniors will win $500 scholarships through random drawings, which they can enter in three ways: by attending a Lela workshop, registering at http://www.AskLela.org or by submitting an Instagram photo. Details for the scholarship contest and drawings are available at http://www.GoFAAM.com. The deadline is March 31.

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    Student chemists advance to state competition

    PLAQUEMINE–More than 200 parents, teachers, students and community members assembled at the Math, Science & Arts Academy West in Plaquemine for the second annual Dow Westside You Be the Chemist Challenge® on Feb. 11.

    Thirty-three 6th – 8th grade students from Iberville and West Baton Rouge Parishes competed against one another through numerous rounds of multiple-choice questions that tested their knowledge of chemistry concepts, important discoveries, and chemical safety awareness.

    Sponsored locally and nationally by Dow, the Challenge is an academic competition created by the Chemical Education Foundation (CEF). The Challenge aims to engage middle school students in chemistry through a dynamic event that partners members of the chemical industry with schools and organizations in the communities in which they operate.

    “At Dow we are committed to supporting the next generation of scientists, engineers, chemists and innovators for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields,” said Abby Cook, Public Affairs Manager, Dow Louisiana Operations. “We are proud to collaborate with organizations like the Chemical Education Foundation to do the important work of changing lives through quality education.”

    After six rounds of competition at the Dow Westside Challenge, the Champion, First Runner-Up, Second Runner-Up and Third Runner-up from both West Baton Rouge and Iberville Parishes were decided. Alex Gautreaux, student in Cynthia West’s class at Devall Middle, took first place for the second consecutive year! Erin Stephens of Janell Albarez’s class at Brusly Middle achieved First Runner-Up. Hanna Prather, also a student of Cynthia West’s class at Devall Middle, placed Second Runner-Up and Naturi Scott of Delky Arbuckle’s class achieved Third Runner-Up for West Baton Rouge Parish.

    Kristopher Cayette, a student in Tanya Taylor’s class at MSA West achieved Champion for Iberville Parish. Lucas Sanchez, a student from Tyne Courville’s class at MSA West took First Runner-Up. Second Runner-Up was achieved by Emily Deslatte of Pam Mechana’s class at St. John and Alixes Bouvay of Dorothy Trusclair’s class at Plaquemine High received Third Runner-Up.

    Champion, First Runner-Up, and Second Runner-Up recipients from both Iberville and West Baton Rouge parishes will advance to the You Be the Chemist State Challenge, April 25 at Louisiana State University. The winner of the state competition will move on to compete in the National Challenge held Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in June.

    Participating schools in the local Dow Westside Challenge included: Devall Middle, Port Allen Middle, Holy Family, Brusly Middle, MSA West, MSA East, St. John School, Plaquemine High, and White Castle High.

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    Youth invited to The Kickback roundtable, Feb. 21

    Our Schools…Our Excellence will host a youth-led round table, The Kickback, Saturday, Feb. 21, at Star Hill Church, 1400 North Foster Drive, starting at noon.

    Organizers said the dialogue will be led by students, with minimal adult interaction. This gives middle and high school students in North Baton Rouge an opportunity to share, discuss and thoroughly understand their educational experience.

    Two students from each North Baton Rouge School have been asked to attend and participate in the discussion in order to have a better understanding the major problems plaguing the schools. “The children should not be penalized by receiving poor education because of lack of structure within our communities. We are all directly responsible for the success or failure of our children,” said Kali Johnson, lead consultant with Our Schools.Our Excellence.

    “The days of placing the blame on the school, teacher, student or parent are over. The concern now, is what strategies and tactics can we create together to see our goals come to fruition. One goal in particular is to increase student participation in the improvement and success of their education through the organization’s Youth Involvement cluster.” Johnson said the organization is committed to facilitating change within the North Baton Rouge School System.

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    Applications open for Ernest J. Gaines Summer Teaching Institute

    The Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, in conjunction with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, is hosting the Second Annual Ernest J. Gaines Summer Teaching Institute June 8-June 12, 2015 for educators who would like to learn more about Ernest Gaines’ writings and how to incorporate the writings into their classrooms. The deadline to apply for the Second Annual Ernest J. Gaines Summer Teaching Institute is March 18, 2015. The institute will be limited to 10 participants, and each participant will receive a $200 stipend and a certificate showing their participation for professional development purposes. To apply, complete the application form below. Participants will be notified by April 15, 2015 on the status of their status. Applicants must provide the following information.

    Texts:
    Bloodline
    The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
    A Gathering of Old Men
    A Lesson before Dying

    Activities:
    Round table discussion
    Examination of archival materials
    Lectures from Ernest J. Gaines scholars Dr. Marcia Gaudet and Dr. Darrell Bourque
    Creation of pedagogical materials

    For more information, visit the Ernest J. Gaines Center’s blog or contact Dr. Matthew Teutsch at (337)-482-1848 or at gainescenter@louisiana.edu.

    The deadline to apply is March 18. For more information, visit http://ernestgaines.louisiana.edu/node/44

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    La. teachers have until Jan. 31 to apply for classroom funding

    AdoptAClassroom.com and ExxonMobil have extended the deadline for teachers to receive up to $100 each of free funding for their classrooms through Jan. 31.

    The opportunity has also expanded to include middle and high school teachers at qualifying Title 1 Schools in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. The non-profi t, AdoptAClassroom.org pairs up donors with
    teachers across the U.S. to provide the funds they need to purchase hands-on learning resources.

    When “adopted,” teachers receive 100% of the contributed funds to purchase items that meet their individual classroom needs.

    The $100,000 check presented to support local Baton Rouge classrooms
    through AdoptAClassroom.org was funded from the commitment of donating two cents per gallon of fuel sold at local ExxonMobil-branded service stations throughout the month of November 2014.

    Teachers may visit AdoptAClassroom.org and click on the “Register Your Classroom” link to register.

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    LSU to host MLK Commemorative Celebration Week

    Martin Luther King Jr. once said that life’s most persistent and urgent question is: “What are you doing to help others?”

    Every year, the LSU community comes together to answer that question with LSU’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration Week, where the highlights and memorialization of the work, accomplishments and legacy of one of the greatest Civil Rights and African American leaders in modern history are honored.

    The Commemorative Celebration kicks off at 8 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 19, where LSU and Baton Rouge community members come together for “MLK Day of Service.” Approximately 200 registered volunteers from LSU’s students, faculty, staff and administrators, as well as other community partners will participate in revitalizing multiple Baton Rouge programs and their facilities to better the community. Students, faculty, staff and community members participating in events can share their #MLK week experiences with LSU on Twitter @LSU or Instagram @snapLSU.

    Following the Day of Service, a candlelight vigil and march sponsored by National Pan-Hellenic Council will be held to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The vigil will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a short program beginning at the Memorial Tower in honor and remembrance of King’s work.

    On Wednesday, Jan. 21, the Student Union Theater will host the MLK Performing Arts Night, where people can celebrate the life and legacy of King through the arts, poetry, dance and musical expression. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

    The signature program is the MLK & Black History Month Commemorative Celebration, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22, in the Student Union Theater. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Black History Month Committees will host journalist, scholar, author and activist Marc Lamont Hill as the keynote speaker for the celebration.

    Marc Lamont Hill

    Marc Lamont Hill

    Hill is one of the leading intellectual voices in the country and is the host of HuffPost Live and BET News; commentator on Our World with Black Enterprise; and political contributor to CNN and Fox News. A distinguished professor of African American Studies at Morehouse College, Hill is also an award-winning journalist, receiving several prestigious awards from the National Association of Black Journalist, GLAAD and the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

    Throughout the month of January, the MLK Committee will host a food drive to aid in LSU’s Food Pantry. Drop-off locations include the Office of Multicultural Affairs, located in room 335 of the Student Union, and the African American Cultural Center, located behind the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at 3 Union Square.

    The 2015 Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration is coordinated by the LSU Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and the Black History Month Committee.

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    COMMENTARY: Is Obama trying to kill Black colleges?

    Is Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, trying to kill Historically Black Colleges and Universities? If he’s not, he’s going to have a difficult time convincing HBCU presidents, trustees and alumni. Surprisingly, Obama has become their worst nightmare.

    George Curry

    George Curry

    Neither President Obama, the First Lady, the Secretary of Education or the president’s closest advisers attended an HBCU and, consequently, are tone death in recognizing what is broadly viewed as sound policy can inadvertently harm our nation’s HBCUs.

    President Obama’s proposal that the federal government pick up the tab for a worthy student’s first two years of community college is a case in point. Without a doubt, a move toward free, universal higher education is an excellent decision.

    But if the president had consulted the major organizations representing HBCUs, he would have heard suggestions on how to tweak his proposal so that it would not needlessly harm Black colleges, which it is certain to do.

    The amended Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as: “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of Black Americans, and that is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association determined by the Secretary [of Education] to be a reliable authority as to the quality of training offered or is, according to such an agency or association, making reasonable progress toward accreditation.”

    HBCUs enroll only 3 percent of college students yet are responsible for nearly 20 percent of all bachelor degrees awarded to African Americans. In some fields, the figures are significantly higher.

    President Obama noted, “America thrived in the 20th century in large part because we had the most educated workforce in the world. But other nations have matched or exceeded the secret to our success.” And the U.S. can’t afford to lose the valuable contributions of HBCUs.

    HBCUs compete directly with community colleges. Both enroll students who may need some additional tutoring or training before they are college ready. More importantly, students who enroll in community colleges and HBCUs are in dire need of financial assistance. If you make the first two years of college free to community college students – and not to HBCUs – you don’t have to be a rocket or social scientist to see that Black colleges will come out the losers.

    And the bleeding doesn’t stop there.

    If and when community college students decide to continue their education, they may be more inclined to transfer to a state-supported public university, where costs are cheaper than those of a private or public HBCU. In many instances, that state-supported university might accept all of the student’s credits whereas the Black institution might accept some of them.

    Public HBCUs are likely to suffer under this scenario as well. If a Black student has attended a community college in Alabama, for example, he or she may be more prone to enroll in the University of Alabama or Auburn than they would if they had initially enrolled in Alabama A&M University or Alabama State. And given the costs, those students might totally bypass Tuskegee University, Talladega College or Stillman College, all private institutions.

    Colleges such as Spelman and Morehouse, though harmed, can probably sustain the drop in enrollment. But without any adjustments, it could be the death knell for many others, including Miles College, Tougaloo, Paine and my alma mater, Knoxville College, which already has a foot in the grave.

    With Republicans now in control of the House and Senate, it would have been far wiser for Obama to huddle with Republicans – whose presidents have been strong supporters of HBCUs over the years – to come up with a proposal that both sides could support. Going it alone, especially in this environment, virtually guarantees that the America’s College Promise program will go nowhere.

    What should be done?

    As one educator told me, it would have been better if Obama had said the federal government would pick up the first two years at a two- or four-year college. That would be better for most HBCUs. Because public tax dollars probably would not be designated for private colleges, the private and religious-affiliated institutions would still be in a bind.

    As for the Republican majority accustomed to saying “no” to everything when they were out of power, education would be a good thing to say “yes” to. And correcting the blunders made by the White House may even help in reaching out to a broader political base, a goal the GOP claims it wants to achieve.

    In the meantime, this new community college proposal, coming on the heels of the administration dropping the ball on Parent PLUS student loans that caused some HBCUs to lose as much as 20 percent of their student body and a proposed federal rating system that could also disadvantage some HCBUs, has some of Obama’s ardent supporters wondering if this is part of a plan to kill Black colleges. If it’s not, it may have the same sad effect.

     By George Curry
    NNPA Columnist

    George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.

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    $20k to be awarded in scholarship

    The deadline to apply for the scholarship is January 14, 2015.

    The Gates Millennium Scholars Program (also known as the Bill Gates Scholarship) awards scholarships each year to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American or Hispanic American students.

    The program, funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The scholarship is renewable and may be used in the freshman, sophomore, junior, senior or graduate years. Students must have financial need and meet Pell Grant eligibility requirements. They must also maintain a grade point average of 3.3 and have a strong interest in leadership and community service. Students may attend any college or university they choose.

    Established in 1999, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program aims to promote academic excellence and to provide an opportunity for outstanding minority students with significant financial need to reach their highest potential. The program reduces financial barriers for African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with high academic and leadership promise who have significant financial need. The program also increases the representation of these target groups in the disciplines of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and the sciences, where these groups are severely underrepresented; and develops a diversified cadre of future leaders for America by facilitating successful completion of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

    For more details and/or to apply, visit: http://www.gmsp.org/

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    Morrell to confront school reform

    NEW ORLEANS - Senator JP Morrell announced today that he will be resigning his long standing position on the Louisiana State Senate’s Natural Resources Committee to fill the vacant seat on the Senate Education Committee. Morrell’s bold move comes at a contentious time for education in Louisiana.

    Statement from Senator JP Morrell:


     “I did not get into politics to skirt the tough issues. I sought office to help bring about positive, lasting change. That is why I have requested to be appointed to the Senate Education Committee.

    Improving education is the most effective way to enhance quality of life in Louisiana. Today we are faced with a range of challenging issues, including: funding, Common Core, career and technical education, early childhood programs, and school governance. While I do not have all of the answers, I am going to listen to all sides, do my homework, and strive to resolve these issues so that we can get about the business of educating our children and preparing them to succeed in life.

    I support our teachers, our parents, and above all, our students. I learned a lot from watching my mother when she was the principal of McDonogh #15 Elementary School. I saw firsthand the effects of insufficient funding, what can be accomplished by a hard-working, professional faculty and staff, and the impact of parents dedicated to helping their children achieve a better future. As a father of two young children, I want to do my part to ensure that Louisiana is a place where they can receive a world-class education.


    We have arrived at a critical juncture, and the future of our state’s education system – Pre-K to Higher Ed – hangs in the balance. That is why I have taken on this role. I hope to bring people on all sides of the issues together to try to do what is best for our children and the future of this great state.”

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    SU Board elects Tarver, Braxton for 2015

    NEW ORLEANS–The Southern University Board of Supervisors elected Leon R. Tarver II as chairman and Calvin W. Braxton Sr. as vice chairmen for 2015, during it’s regular meeting held in New Orleans, Nov. 28.

    Tarver, a Shreveport native and resident of Baton Rouge, is SU System president emeritus and is the retired executive administrator of the Center of Cultural Heritage and International Programs at the Southern University System. Governor Bobby Jindal appointed Tarver to the SU Board in January 2013. He serves as an at-large member.

    “Thanks to my colleagues for their support. I want to do a lot to make Southern a finer institution for all,” said Tarver.

    The newly elected chairman holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Southern University Baton Rouge, a master’s of public administration from Harvard University (John K. Kennedy School of Government), and a doctor of philosophy from The Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    Tarver has held academic and administrative positions at the national, state, and local levels.

    The former SU System president has conducted international development activities in Egypt, England, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Haiti, Mozambique, Nigeria, and South Africa, and founded two museums on African and African-American art within the Southern University System.

    Braxton, of Natchitoches, is the president and chief executive officer of Braxton Land Company and president of Natchitoches Ford-Lincoln-Mercury.  Governor Jindal appointed Braxton in June 2011.

    Calvin W Braxton Sr

    Calvin W Braxton Sr

    “SU is my heart. I want to do what we need to do to move forward to make a better SU,” said Braxton.

    The new officers will replace Bridget A. Dinvant, chairwoman for the past two years, and the Rev. Joe R. Gant, vice chairman for the past year, who both continue to serve on the board.  The Board of Supervisors of Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College serve to manage and supervise the Southern University System.

     

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    True BLUE campaign exceeds SU goal

    October 1, 2014, marked the successful completion of the Southern University System Foundation’s TrueBLUE 90-day viral fundraising campaign.

    The campaign raised $1,186,059.60 in cash contributions to assist Southern University System campuses. The success of the campaign is due to the more than 930 donors who gave an average of $1,275 since its launch on July 1, 2014, and to 68 volunteer campaign captains who used email and social media as primary methods of engagement. NFL Hall of Famer and SU alumnus Aeneas Williams joined campaign volunteers to celebrate the during University’s halftime homecoming festivities on October 4, at A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.1 true blue

    SUSF president Anna Jones and SUSF treasurer Domoine Rutledge presented the $1 million check to SU System chancellors Flandus McClinton, SU Baton Rouge (interim); Victor Ukpolo, SU New Orleans; Leodry Williams, SU Agricultural Research and Extention Center; Ray Belton, SU Shreveport; and Freddie Pitcher Jr., SU Law Center.

    “A dedicated team of volunteers made this endeavor successful. The students, faculty, and staff of our campuses will be the beneficiary of their efforts,” said Alfred E. Harrell III, executive director, Southern University System Foundation. Contributions made during the campaign will provide direct support for student scholarships, faculty research projects, and important campus initiatives. Laquitta Thomas, Southern University Alumni Federation first vice president said, “Thanks to all who supported the Million Dollar March. The funds raised will give the next generation of young people the opportunity to be a part of SU’s next 100 years. Donor support allows us to focus on the most critical mission for our campuses to increase student recruitment and enrollment.”

    The Southern University System Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation securing financial support for each of the five campuses of the Southern University System since 1968. The Foundation bridges relationships with faculty, students, alumni, friends, corporations, and other foundations interested in academic excellence for the University System. The SUSF is a voluntary institute of business and professional leaders, proudly incorporated to establish program enhancements for Southern University students, faculty, and the community at large.

    By Shonda Y. Wessinger
    The Drum Contributing Writer

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  • App to hold police accountable

    Three LSU students plan to build an app to help the public hold police accountable, one of eight projects selected in the university’s Social Media News Challenge. Jerry Ceppos, dean of LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, chose seven projects to receive mini-grants under the school’s Social Media News Challenge grant from the Knight Foundation. Wilborn P. Nobles III, Aryanna Prasad, and Elbis Bolton plan to develop a mobile app people can use to document and report police behavior —misconduct or acts of courtesy or heroism.

    To complete the project successfully, the students will need to address significant challenges of verification, promotion and technology, Ceppos said. “But I look forward to seeing how they meet those challenges,” he added. “This is exactly the kind of ambitious project we hoped students would pursue with these grants.” Other student projects approved address social issues, entertainment, news at LSU and social media response to university sporting events.

    “We’re pleased with the variety of topics the students have proposed and their creative approaches to engaging the community,” Ceppos said. The social media grants are funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts.

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    SU hosts fall concert Nov. 18

    The Southern University Concert Choir, under the direction of professor Charles Lloyd Jr., will present its Annual Fall Concert.  Guest performers will be Jacqueline Paige-Green, soprano and Richard Hobson, baritone. Students Briannica Thompson, Derelyn Williams, Nicolas Lockett, Ryan Alexander and Arthur Gremillion will be featured soloists.

    The Nov. 18 ” We’ll walk in the light” concert will begin at 3pm in the Stewart Hall Auditorium.  The program will feature Christmas selections, choral anthems, and Spirituals.

    The concert is free and open to the public.

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  • Tangi school board to decide on sick leave bank

    AMITE–The Tangipahoa Parish school administration has agreed to provide the school board with a recommendation on a request that accrued leave in the employee sick leave bank be rolled into the next school year.

    School system employees can voluntarily donate one hour of sick leave annually to the sick leave bank. Should an employee expend all of their sick leave and need additional leave, hours can be drawn from the sick leave bank.

    Kevin Crovetto, president of the Tangipahoa Federation of Teachers, told the board that if the remaining hours cannot be rolled into the next year, that they be returned to the employee.

    The board directed the administration to submit a recommendation by the first meeting in November.

    At the request of board member Sandra Bailey-Simmons, the board directed the administration to send to the board a recommendation on a request to set age 14 as the age for transition planning for students with an Individual Education Plan.
    Supt. Mark Kolwe said he would not recommend age 14 for all students, but would consider a case by case evaluation.

    The recommendation will be submitted at the first board meeting in November.
    At the request of board member Brett Duncan, the board directed its attorneys to provide to the board also at the first meeting in November a plan for moving the school system forward toward unitary status.

    The board is operating under the oversight of a federal judge due to a federal desegregation lawsuit filed by the parish NAACP.

    Duncan said he has received questions from constituents as to what steps the board has taken to move the suit to conclusion.

    The plaintiffs have filed numerous complaints and motions with the judge, but all have been ruled to have been without merit, he said.

    He said the school board has not been found in violation of any court order.
    The board cannot undertake simple maintenance projects because of motions filed by the plaintiffs, Duncan said.

    Attorney Pam Dill said the modified desegregation plan approved by the board in September, 2013, has been submitted to the plaintiffs three times for comment, as directed by the judge. The board attorneys have received no input from the plaintiffs, Dill said.

    The judge ordered the board to provide evidence of desegregation in the areas of transportation and extracurricular activities, facilities, faculty, staff, student assignment and transportation.

    Dill said the board has met the court’s requirements for transportation and extracurricular activities. The next step is to address a plan for the other four issues.

    Duncan asked Dill and attorney Ashley Sandage if the attorneys could have a plan ready by the first meeting in November. Dill said they could, that in fact, a plan was already prepared.

    Duncan asked that the plan show where the board now stands in terms of moving toward unitary status, and the measures that are needed to reach full compliance.

    Read more »
  • ,

    China trip promotes Ag development

    Five members of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center faculty and staff will travel to China to exchange knowledge and technology in the area of World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate with Chinese scientists and officials.

    The visit is part of the United States Department of Agriculture/Foreign Agricultural Service’s Scientific Exchange Program (SCEP) with the People’s Republic of China.

    The objective of SCEP is to promote bilateral scientific exchange to promote agricultural cooperation, development, and trade between the United States and China. The Southern University Ag Center hosted six scientists from China in June of 2012. This travel will allow China to host a delegation from the SU Ag Center.

    This isn’t the SU Ag Center’s first experience with international exchange. The SU Ag Center was accepted into the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program in 2011. The program provided U.S.-based agribusiness and collaborative research training to African women from Kenya and Malawi.

    “Because of the great reputation of the Southern University Ag Center with international exchange, the USDA approached us about applying for the SCEP,” said Fatemeh Malekian, Professor of Food Science and Nutrition at the SU Ag Center and Project Director of the program.

    “We are going to get to see a very diverse view of China’s agriculture,” said Malekian. The group will travel to Beijing; Harbin, Heilongjiang Province and Nanning, Guangxi Province during their two-week visit. “Our goal is to learn from the way they are looking at agriculture and apply it here at SU,” she added.

    The delegates going to China are: Fatemeh Malekian, professor of food science and nutrition; Oscar Udoh, coordinator for planning and evaluation; Sebhatu Gebrelul, professor of animal Science; Doze Butler, associate dean of the college of agriculture; and communications specialist Bridget Udoh.

    The group will meet with the Chinese scientists who visited Southern, the staff of the National Agro-Tech Extension and Service Center, the College of Economics and Management at the China Agricultural University, the Division of Market Information at the Agricultural Committee of Heilongjiang and Guangxi Provincial Department of Agriculture; visit extension agencies; manufacturers of ag-products, grains and poultry farms.

    By LaKeesha Givens
    The Drum Contributing Writer

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU’s great alumni speak out in new book

    Baton Rouge business coach and Southern University alumnus Howard White brings together 45 of Southern University’s great alumni who share ‘Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff’ in the newly released book Southern Greats: Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff .

    White, who is a John Maxwell-certified business coach, spent the past four years and traveled some 30,000-plus miles for interviews to complete this book, this story, this start.

    “No matter how often I put Southern Greats down, I was pulled back into the purpose of teaching, inspiring, motivating, and empowering readers with these stories from highly accomplished Southern University and A&M College graduates, who I call ‘Southern Greats’…They all share a great love for life, measurable success, a passion for their purpose, and a greater love for Southern University,” White said.

    He is the author of TOP Secrets to Create A TOP Performing Business and owner of Top Choice, one of the nation’s leading vendors of Southern University memorabilia located in Baton Rouge.

    Southern Greats: Lessons of Love and Life Learned on the Bluff is available in print and e-book through bookstores nationwide and online at www.southerngreats.com. Academic and bulk discounts are available in the Top Choice Products, 1492 Harding Blvd., Baton Rouge.

    Read more »
  • Blacks more likely to bully, be bullied than other groups

    WASHINGTON–Blacks, who are already more likely than other racial groups to be involved in situations that involve bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, are subjected to additional bullying because of other complicating factors, including poverty, according to scholars and experts on the subject.

    “African Americans have higher rates of bullying. When I looked at the factors, they were all overlapping with health and social disparity,” said Maha Mohammad Albdour, who is examining bullying as part of her doctoral studies in Community Health Nursing at Wayne State University. Her research findings were published this month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.

    “There is a lot of interest in bullying, but…. [t]his population has a lot going on related to social and health disparities, so maybe the experience is different from other populations,” Albdour said.

    According to her research, Black children are more likely to be involved in bullying (as aggressor, victim, or bystander) than other groups. Additionally, Stop­bullying.gov, a federal resource, found that Black and Hispanic children who are bullied are more likely to do poorly in school than their white counterparts.

    They are also more likely to possess characteristics that make them a target for bullying. According to some studies, children who are perceived as “different” – through sexuality or gender identity, lower socio-economic status than their peers, or pronounced weight differences (over or under), are more likely to be bullied.

    As of 2010, 51 percent of Black children ages two to 19 had been told by a doctor that they were overweight, according to the Office of Minority Health. But such factors and the effects they bring can be mitigated by a trusted adult’s presence.

    “For African-American children, family was a strong predicting factor,” Albdour said. “[Family] can even act as a buffer for community violence. If there is communication, cohesion, and the parents are involved in the child’s school life, it has a huge preventative effect.”

    Albdour’s research mirrors a newly released report, “Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade.”

    The report, which appears in the March issue of Pediatrics, tracked more than 4,000 students’ experiences over time, surveying them in fifth grade (when the prevalence of bullying peaks), in seventh grade, and in 10th grade.

    While the study did not specifically examine race, the researchers found that kids who are bullied, especially for prolonged periods, are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adolescence and beyond.

    As fifth-graders, almost a third of students questioned who reported being victims of bullying exhibited poor psychological health, compared to the 4.3 percent who were not bullied.

    By seventh grade, those who reported being bullied in the past were better off—the percentage of students exhibiting signs of a poor quality of life as fifth-graders was cut in half if the bullying had stopped by seventh grade.

    However, the rate of emotional trouble was highest among 10th-graders who reported being bullied both in the past and present, with nearly 45 percent showing signs of serious distress. This group of chronically bullied 10th-graders had the highest rates of low self-worth, depression, and poor quality of life (and the second-highest rates of poor physical health, after those who were being bullied in the present only).

    “Any victimization is bad, but it has stronger effects depending on whether it continues or not,” said Laura Bogart, the author of the study. “If the bullying experience happens in fifth grade, you can still see effects in 10th grade.”

    Those effects manifest in myriad detrimental ways for children involved in bullying—but the repercussions differ depending on how the child is involved.

    Stopbullying.gov states that kids who bully others are more likely to be violent, vandalize property, drop out of school, and have sex early. As adults, they are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations, and abuse romantic partners. Warning signs include aggression, difficulty accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, and a competitive spirit that is concerned with reputation or popularity.

    The site advises that kids who are bullied “are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.”

    “There are subtle signs,” Bogart says. “If a child doesn’t want to go to school all of a sudden, or if they’re in their room a lot. If they’re sad or angry, or if they’re not talking about other kids and friends from school [for example].”

    The kids who experience the most far-reaching consequences are bully-victims—kids who are victims in one area of their lives, and victimize others in another.

    “Bully-victims are the most afflicted. They have more substance abuse, more social problems…and this is true across ethnicities,” Albdour said. “You can expect bully-victims to internalize problems, then act out. It results in them being an aggressive person as an adult.”

    Parents can play a vital role.

    “One argument is that there should be immediate and early intervention, and parents should be aware of what’s going on in their child’s life through good communication with their child,” Bogart said.

    In the case of Black children, anti-discrimination/civil rights laws can be applied if harassment is race-based. As StopBullying.gov explains, “There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In some cases, when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it.”

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

    “In almost every state there is a law that schools have to have anti-bullying policy, and it usually involves parents,” Bogart said. “Now, there’s a lot less talk of ‘kids just do that’ or ‘boys will be boys.’ We are evolving as a nation.”

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,

    Genesis Entergy creates $100,000 SU fund

    The Southern University System Foundation and the Southern University and A&M College of Business and College of Engineering and Computer Science recently partnered with Genesis Energy to create a $100,000 scholarship fund for SU students. The scholarship seeks to encourage students to explore opportunities in their chosen fields of study and to develop a relationship with Genesis Energy. Five students from the Southern University College of Engineering and Computer Science are among this year’s recipients.

    “Academia and industry partnerships are mutually beneficial,” said Habib Mohamadian, dean of the SUBR College of Engineering and Computer Science.

    Tamara Montgomery, director of career services at Southern University believes that the University’s relationship with Genesis Energy will provide a strong foundation for SU students. “We are expanding and strengthening our partnership with Genesis Energy to provide scholarships, internships, and research opportunities for our most valuable asset… our students.”

    “We welcome the new Genesis facility to the area and appreciate the opportunity for our students and the Southern University community to be a part of this mutually beneficial partnership. We look forward to Genesis supporting scholarships, internships and laboratory enhancements to strengthen our students’ marketability in the energy and sustainability industries” said Monique Guillory-Winfield, Southern University System vice president for academic and student affairs.

    Genesis Energy is a diversified midstream energy master limited partnership headquartered in Houston, Texas. Genesis operations include pipeline transportation, refinery services, and supply and logistics. Genesis operations are primarily located in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico.

    “On behalf of everyone at Genesis Energy, we offer our congratulations to the 2014-2015 Genesis Energy Scholarship recipients,” said Genesis Energy public and government affairs specialist Drew Ratcliff.

    Read more »
  • ,

    SU Director promoted to VP for Advancement at Winona State

    Winona State University in Minnesota has appointed Ernie Hughes to the position of vice president for advancement and executive directorrector of the WSU Foundation.

    He most recently served as director of community economic development for the Southern University System in Baton Rouge, La. Prior to this appointment, he served in roles as vice president for advancement, special assistant to the president, and executive director of the Southern University System Foundation; and associate vice chancellor for advancement and community development specialist for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Hughes holds a Ph.D. in human resource development from Louisiana State University, an M.B.A. with specialization in marketing from Mississippi State University, and a B.A. in finance and logistics from Mississippi State University.

    “Dr. Hughes brings with him with more than 20 years of experience in higher education,” said WSU President Scott R. Olson. “His reputation for fostering collaboration and sustainable partnerships is well-suited to our mission in the Advancement Office and for the university at large.”

    Hughes describes WSU as a student-focused, community-responsive university and said he is excited to spend time getting to know the campus and community while helping to develop and instill strategic institutional vision and values.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Caught You! JK Haynes

    CAUGHT YOU: J.K. Haynes Charter School math teachers challenge participants during the school’s showcase and back to school supply giveaway, July 27. The new middle school is located at the old Banks Elementary, 2401 72nd Ave., in Scotlandville. See more photos on The Drum facebook page.

    Read more »
  • ,

    Blacks experience more bullying

    By Jazelle Hunt
    NNPA Correspondent

    WASHINGTON–Blacks, who are already more likely than other racial groups to be involved in situations that involve bullying, both as a victim and as a perpetrator, are subjected to additional bullying because of other complicating factors, including poverty, according to scholars and experts on the subject.

    “African Americans have higher rates of bullying. When I looked at the factors, they were all overlapping with health and social disparity,” said Maha Mohammad Albdour, who is examining bullying as part of her doctoral studies in Community Health Nursing at Wayne State University. Her re­search findings were published this month in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing.

    “There is a lot of interest in bullying, but…. [t]his population has a lot going on related to social and health disparities, so maybe the experience is different from other populations,” Albdour said.

    According to her research, Black children are more likely to be involved in bullying (as aggressor, victim, or bystander) than other groups. Additionally, Stop­bullying.gov, a federal resource, found that Black and Hispanic children who are bullied are more likely to do poorly in school than their white counterparts.

    They are also more likely to possess characteristics that make them a target for bullying. According to some studies, children who are perceived as “different” – through sexuality or gender identity, lower socio-economic status than their peers, or pronounced weight differences (over or under), are more likely to be bullied.

    As of 2010, 51 percent of Black children ages two to 19 had been told by a doctor that they were overweight, according to the Office of Minority Health. But such factors and the effects they bring can be mitigated by a trusted adult’s presence.

    “For African-American children, family was a strong predicting factor,” Albdour said. “[Family] can even act as a buffer for community violence. If there is communication, cohesion, and the parents are involved in the child’s school life, it has a huge preventative effect.”

    Albdour’s research mirrors a newly released report, “Peer Victimization in Fifth Grade and Health in Tenth Grade.”

    The report, which appears in the March issue of Pediatrics, tracked more than 4,000 students’ experiences over time, surveying them in fifth grade (when the prevalence of bullying peaks), in seventh grade, and in 10th grade.

    While the study did nog specifically examine race, the researchers found that kids who are bullied, especially for prolonged periods, are more likely to experience poor mental and physical health in adolescence and beyond.

    As fifth-graders, almost a third of students questioned who reported being victims of bullying exhibited poor psychological health, compared to the 4.3 percent who were not bullied.

    By seventh grade, those who reported being bullied in the past were better off—the percentage of students exhibiting signs of a poor quality of life as fifth-graders was cut in half if the bullying had stopped by seventh grade.

    However, the rate of emotional trouble was highest among 10th-graders who reported being bullied both in t he past and present, with nearly 45 percent showing signs of serious distress. This group of chronically bullied 10th-graders had the highest rates of low self-worth, depression, and poor quality of life (and the second-highest rates of poor physical health, after those who were being bullied in the present only).

    “Any victimization is bad, but it has stronger effects depending on whether it continues or not,” said Laura Bogart, the author of the study. “If the bullying experience happens in fifth grade, you can still see effects in 10th grade.”

    Those effects manifest in myriad detrimental ways for children involved in bullying—but the repercussions differ depending on how the child is involved.

    Stopbullying.gov says that kids who bully others are more likely to be violent, vandalize property, drop out of school, and have sex early. As adults, they are more likely to have criminal convictions and traffic citations, and abuse romantic partners. Warning signs include aggression, difficulty accepting responsibility for one’s own actions, and a competitive spirit that is concerned with reputation or popularity.

    The site advises that kids who are bullied “are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.”

    “There are subtle signs,” Bogart says. “If a child doesn’t want to go to school all of a sudden, or if they’re in their room a lot. If they’re sad or angry, or if they’re not talking about other kids and friends from school [for example].”

    The kids who experience the most far-reaching consequences are bully-victims—kids who are victims in one area of their lives, and victimize others in another.

    “Bully-victims are the most afflicted. They have more substance abuse, more social problems…and this is true across ethnicities,” Albdour explains. “You can expect bully-victims to internalize problems, then act out. It results in them being an aggressive person as an adult.”

    Parents can play a vital role.

    “One argument is that there should be immediate and early intervention, and parents should be aware of what’s going on in their child’s life through good communication with their child,” Bogart said.

    In the case of Black children, anti-discrimination/civil rights laws can be applied if harassment is race-based. As StopBullying.gov explains, “There is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying. In some cases, when bullying is based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or religion, bullying overlaps with harassment and schools are legally obligated to address it.”

    States seem to be showing more sensitivity in addressing bullying.

    “In almost every state there is a law that schools have to have anti-bullying policy, and it usually involves parents,” Bogart said. “Now, there’s a lot less talk of ‘kids just do that’ or ‘boys will be boys.’ We are evolving as a nation.”

    Read more »
  • Tatum moves to shrink EBR board

    FOR MUCH OF THE LAST TWO YEARS, the proposed St. George breakaway school district has been front and center in the conversation about local poli- tics and education.

    It is the proposal by a group of citizens in what is currently Baton Rouge to break away and incorporate the City of St. George. This controversial plan has led to several pieces of state legislation and aggressive action by the Baton Rouge Metro Council.

    Though all of those bills failed to put a moratorium on it, so did legislation by Senator Bodi White that sought to create a “transition district” that would pave the way for the creation of the St. George School District.

    Because of the failure of this bill, School Board President David Tatman is working to
    make sure a plan to shrink the size of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board is implemented by local government instead of legislators.
    The Baton Rouge Area Chamber and others who support shrinking the board, have said the measure would provide for more efficient operations of the school board and save money by having to pay fewer school board members.

    These supporters cited the success- ful breakaways of Zachary, Central and Baker and the formation of those individ- ual school districts leaves the school board with less territory to cover and assert that it, thus, makes sense to reduce school board membership.

    Opponents of this plan feel that it would result in unnecessarily large school districts that would be difficult to manage and make it easy for local business leaders to unseat people with whom they disagree.

    Either way, Tatman said he wants to have it complete by this year’s election. In 2013, article 4 of the voting rights act was struck down. Thus, for the first time, Louisiana and other formerly segregated states will not have to get clearance before re-draw- ing districts.

    Tatman said two board members—who he is not at liberty to name—will also not be seeking re-election. School Board Rep. Craig Freeman of District 6 has announced that he will not be seeking re-election. District 11 member Mary Lynch has not announced if she will seek re-election.

    By Terry Young II

    Contributing Reporter

    Read more »
  • Working hurts finances of Blacks working way through college

    WASHINGTON (NNPA) — More than 60 percent of Black students could receive greater financial aid for college through the Pell grant program if enrolled full-time, according to a new report by the National Urban League.

    The report, which focused on the profile of a typical Black student and the uphill battle they fight to get to college and earn a degree, found that 62 percent of Black students receive funding for college through the Pell grant program, but many more would qualify if they didn’t have to work supporting themselves, their families or young children.

    “While 62 percent of African American students receive some Pell support, only 14 percent of independent African Americans receive the maximum Pell Grant award,” the report stated.

    During the 2011-2012 school year, maximum Pell grant awards ranged between $4,500 and $5,500.

    According to the report, Black students are more likely to come from low-income families than their white peers. Black students are less likely to receive family contributions, which increase the likelihood of receiving higher Pell Grant awards.

    A 2012 report on Pell grant recipients by the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, said that Blacks account for 12 percent of Pell recipients, while 63 percent of funds allocated to the grant program went to white students.

    In fact, the Pope Center report found that the typical Pell recipient was white, female, 25 years old, works part-time, is financially independent and is going to school full-time.

    Yet, the independent status of Black students often leaves them unable to attend college full-time and makes it even harder for them to graduate.

    “The biggest distinction that we found is that most African American graduates are independent or non-traditional students compared to other races and ethnicities,” said Susie Saavedra, a senior legislative director at the National Urban League’s Washington Bureau.

    Saavedra, who co-authored the report, said that the distinction between independent students and dependent students is significant because there are important differences that affect the way each group matriculates through college.

    “Independent African-American undergraduates are more likely than others to be single parents, 48 percent, compared to 23 percent of whites, 34 percent of Latinos, 36 percent of Native Americans and 19 percent of Asians,” the report stated.

    More than 40 percent of independent Black students attend two-year schools and about one in four independent Black students are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs. In contrast, more than half of all dependent Black students are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs.

    Saavedra said that Black students often enter college so academically unprepared that they’re using their valuable Pell grant dollars to pay for remedial courses that don’t count towards a degree, further limiting their financial resources.

    Despite their own constrained financial resources, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), often graduate a disproportionate amount of Black students, compared to predominately white institutions.

    Although, HBCUs account for less than three percent of all post-secondary institutions they graduate almost 18 percent of the Black students that earn bachelor’s degrees.

    Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia said that the cooperative-learning environment found at many HBCUs rather than a cutthroat competitive environment and that ends up supporting students.

    “If you have students that are mentoring each other instead of constantly trying to one-up each other, it changes the environment and it makes it more academically and socially supportive,” Gasman said.

    She said that racial incidents that occur at majority-white institutions often chip away at the psyche of Black students.

    “Within the HBCU environment there is a belief in the potential and the success of Black students, that right there can make an enormous difference,” Gasman explained.

    Saavedra said that even with reforms to the Pell grant program, financial aid alone is not enough to retain and graduate low-income and underserved students.

    “Instead, a growing body of research suggests that when financial aid is paired with wrap-around services or personalized approach to higher education we see improved retention among low-income students,” Saavedra said.

    Researchers recommended building learning communities to strengthen connections between students, increasing access to social safety net programs to provide students with comprehensive financial support, enhancing career advisement. Students also need greater financial counseling to help them understand the real cost of college and summer bridge programs to prepare them for the coursework.

    Saavedra said that policymakers and advocates must find better ways to serve non-traditional students.

    “Many of our recommendations offer a proactive approach that move the conversation beyond the goal of college access to providing the necessary support and re­sources to address the factors highlighted [in the report],” Saavedra said. “We believe these strategies will help us realize the larger goal of college completion, upward mobility, and economic empowerment for all underserved students.”

    By Freddie Allen

    
NNPA Washington Correspondent

    Read more »
  • ,,

    EBR School Board seeks District 11 resident to replace Lamana

    The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board announces a vacancy on the school board due to the death of School Board Member Randy Lamana on April 16, 2014.  At a special meeting to be held on Thursday, May 1, 2014, the Board will appoint a qualified resident of School Board District 11, in the Parish of East Baton Rouge to serve until the duly elected member takes office January of 2015.   

    Qualified residents of District 11 interested in serving should submit a letter of intent along

    image

    with a resume and/or short
    biographical sketch.  Each applicant must also submit a Certificate of Residency/Qualifications from the East Baton Rouge Parish Registrar of Voters.  The Certificates of Residency/Qualifications can be obtained free of charge.  Please submit the requested documentation to the attention of:

    Mr. David Tatman, President
    East Baton Rouge Parish School Board
    1050 South Foster Drive
    Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70806

    The deadline for submitting a letter of intent is Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 3:00 PM.   

    QUALIFICATIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

    Persons eligible to serve as members of the School Board shall have the following minimum qualifications:

    1. A Board member shall have attained the age of eighteen (18).
    2. A Board member shall be domiciled in the election district for the preceding year, except after reapportionment.
    3. A Board Member shall have resided in the state for the preceding two (2) years.
    4. A Board Member shall be able to read and write.
    5. A Board Member shall not be serving on certain other boards specified in the Constitution of Louisiana.
    6. A Board Member shall have affirmed to the prescribed oath.

    All applicants must also disclose if a member of their immediate family is an employee of the school system.  “Immediate family” as the term relates to a public servant means his children, the spouses of his children, his brothers and their spouses, his sisters and their spouses, his parents, his spouse, and the parents of his spouse.

    For more information, please visit the school system’s web site at www.ebrpss.k12.la.us or contact us by phone at 225-922-5567. 

    Read more »
  • ,

    Hill to host community meeting on House Bill 1177

    Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) District 8 Rep. Carolyn Hill will host a community meeting 6pm, Tues., April 22, at Capitol Middle School, 5100 Greenwell Springs Road, to discuss the impact of House Bill 1177, which would restructure the administration of the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.East Baton Rouge School System Supt. Bernard Taylor, Attorney Domoine Rutledge as well as State Representatives Pat Smith and Alfred Williams will speak. Refreshments and door prizes will be provided.

    Read more »
  • Landrieu to address SU commencement

    U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu will be the commence-ment speaker for the spring graduation ceremony in the F.G. Activity Center, May 9, at 10:30am. Landrieu, a New Orleans native, is the first woman from Louisiana ever elected to the United States Senate. Landrieu was Louisiana’s State Treasurer from 1988 to 1996. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and reelected in 2002 and 2008.

    Read more »
  • Taylor criticizes media coverage

    EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH SCHOOL Superintendent Bernard Taylor said he believes more of the district’s success and less of its shortcom- ings should be seen in the media.

    “In this environment it seems so many other issues get attention than what our core business is (and that’s) educating children,” Taylor said on March 17 at a Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists meeting.

    Taylor said the media tend to focus on more sa- lacious stories instead of highlighting the schools’ striving to maintain aca- demic excellence.

    “Our students are making a tremendous amount of progress over a very short period of time, they are the most important factor. The media isn’t tell- ing the story of the district, but the story of the student and what they’ve accomplished.”

    According to ebrschools.org, some of the successes for the district include 42 percent of the schools having increased academic performance by one letter grade and 72 per- cent of schools having been deemed “academically ac- ceptable” by the state.

    Taylor said he understands that not all students are alike and that the dis-rict prides itself on the many options it provides to students being educated, such as magnet programs, Montessori and visual and performing arts programs. Taylor also wants parents of special needs students to know that the system is striving to make sure those students are accommodated.

    “One thing that we are going to highlight [is] the choices we offer to special- ed students. We educate students with severe physi- cal disabilities, autistic students, students with speech impediments, students with learning disabilities and students who have emotional disabilities that might impede their learn- ing, but there is no other entity in the community that does that in the totality [like this] school district does.”

    During the past six years EBRPSS has strived to improve and is mere points away from becoming a B rated school district. This year 12 EBR schools improved their state rank- ing to “academically ac- ceptable” and more than 50 percent of the schools in the district are graded “C” or higher.

    “I would dare to say we have seen more stories about fights than we have about an analysis of what the data is telling us.” Tay- lor said that biggest challenge EBRPSS is facing is getting people to under- stand that by working to- gether, the district will educate students successfully and that financially there are issues that will have to be addressed legislatively to ensure all students are afforded the best educational opportunities available to them.

    EBR recently made headlines in Baton Rouge when the state ordered a review of the records of recent public high school graduates. The review was ordered when it was found that an area student gradu- ated without meeting state requirements. An audit completed on March 14 found that were other stu- dents who received grades or credits that differed from those the school system reported to the state.

    According to the audit report, the school system has until April 4 to develop a corrective action plan to prevent such problems from recurring.

    Released March 17, the audit also examined whether some students listed as transferring else- where should be consid- ered dropouts. It also fur- ther explores the case of the initial student records that sparked the audit.

    “People make mis- takes, but at the end of the day there is nothing in the report that points to any level of malfeasance or staff altering the books. We’re talking about human error and unfortunately people make mistakes.” Taylor said he will meet with State Superintendent of Educa- tion John White to discuss the audit’s findings

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  • SU Founders’ Day, March 10, celebrates 134 years

    Southern University Baton Rouge will observe its annual Founders’ Day March 10, 2014, to commemorate 134 years of providing educational opportunities to students from across the globe. The theme for the 2012 commemoration is “Celebrating Southern University 134 Years:  100 Years on Scott’s Bluff.”

    The University was founded in New Orleans in 1880 and relocated to Baton Rouge in 1914.

    Events include:

    Campus / Community Prayer Breakfast
    Royal Cotillion Ballroom
    Smith-Brown Memorial Student Union
    8 a.m.

    SU Laboratory School Pilgrimage
    Clark Gravesite
    10 a.m.

    Founders’ Day Convocation
    F.G. Clark Activity Center
    Guest Speaker: Leon R. Tarver II, SU System president emeritus
    11 a.m.

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  • Ponchatoula native sparks male involvement in BR elem. school

    HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE AS THE MALE  faculty of Claiborne Elementary shared breakfast, fellowship, insight and encouragement with concerned men of all walks of life.

    There were fathers, uncles, brothers and mentors at this standing room only breakfast event. So many in attendance that the facility’s multi-purpose center’s extension had to be opened to accommodate the overwhelming amount of men, who responded to the clarion call given by Claiborne Elementary principal, Stephanie Tate and dean of students Robert Wells Jr.

    Carrying with them a diversity of professions, passions and pasts, all of these men shared one thing in common – genuine concern for the well-being of Claiborne’s students- their children.

    The event “Donuts with Dad” is a grassroots effort to bridge the gap existing between students and the necessary male supportive presence needed in schools.

    This event initiated meaningful dialogue between faculty and fathers who formerly have been underrepresented at parent-teacher conferences, in parent- teacher organizations and in classrooms to monitor student progress in a holistic way.

    The exceptional turnout was largely due to the unyielding dedication and hard work of faculty members James Stampley and Freddie Ward. The two men communicated directly with fathers to ensure their attendance.claiborne students

    This grassroots effort is the beginning of a purposeful relationship between Claiborne and its fathers, which will focus on providing opportunities for men to assist their children in reaching their academic goals.

    “Donuts with Dad” is also the launching pad for more events, which will bring the positivist of male mentorship into the halls of Claiborne to enrich the lives of students.

    The next activity, “Dinner with Dads” will occur later this month. It is an effort to continue the purposeful partnership between Claiborne Elementary faculty, students, families and community at large.

    Claiborne Elementary is a school that continues to rise above difficult circumstances and challenges to focus on bringing together the proverbial village that supports and contributes to the raising of each student who enters its doors.

    The Claiborne community believes that “we are better together” and can accomplish more as a unified body of one, with one vision, one voice and one objective where all stakeholders are important and needed.

     

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  • Fired N.O. teachers win in appeal

    THE Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that an estimated7,000 teachers and school employees were wrongfully terminated post Hurricane Katrina.

    Teachers filed suit against the Orleans Parish School Board and the Louisiana Department of Education after they lost their jobs post-Katrina and then were not given the first notice new job opportunities that arose once schools began reopening.

    As a result, all tenured employees who were fired after Katrina will be paid two years’ salary by the Orleans Parish School Board. Teachers who meet certain criteria will
    also be paid an additional year’s salary by the state of Louisiana.

    The ruling, passed down by judges James McKay III, Edwin Lombard, Paul Bonin, Daniel Dysart,and Roland Belsome, said it was fair for the School Board to reduce the workforce post-Katrina. However, the teachers had a constitutionally protected right to be recalled to work as soon as opportunities arose for them to do so. The School Board was legally required to create a “recall list” of teachers who were available to return
    and failed to do this. This list should have been used to rehire teachers and staff to fill any openings over the next two years.

    The ruling applies to all employees who had tenure on August 29, 2005. That list includes principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, offi ceadministrators, secretaries,
    social workers, and other support staff.

    Both the school board and the state can ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to review the ruling.

    ONLINE: lasc.org

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