Thursday, 26 April 2012 20:05

Jindal's Louisiana Reform Questioned, Willard Lewis Concedes, John Kennedy Shares

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jindal-GE-new-orleansWhat's happening today in Louisiana politics?  Well, there's the matter of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal legislative agenda, present and past, a harsh commentary criticizing his education reform program passed only weeks ago, a column by Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy regarding the high cost of state government and state employees.

 Also, a word from Cynthia Willard Lewis after losing to Stacy Head for the council-at-large seat, PAR's report card on some of the legislative matters, Governor Jindal's own report on his agenda in the legislature and much more.

 Oh, did we mention, the Obama administration reporting on healthcare in Louisiana?  

Check it all out below:


Putting an end to a New Orleans political election with race as an issue, below is a press statement from Cynthia Willard-Lewis Campaign:

Some members of the media have requested a comment from Cynthia Willard-Lewis regarding her concession telephone call to Stacy Head. Below is an official statement for media use:

Putting an end to a New Orleans political election with race as an issue, below is a press statement from Cynthia Willard-Lewis Campaign:

Some members of the media have requested a comment from Cynthia Willard-Lewis regarding her concession telephone call to Stacy Head. Below is an official statement for media use:


Official Statement from Cynthia Willard-Lewis Campaign

“I would like thank the over 55,000 voters who participated in the democratic process during the last few weeks, including early and absentee voters.  At this time I would like to offer my support and sincere congratulations to newly-elected Councilmember-At-Large, Stacey Head.


I also thank the 27,506 citizens of our great city, who voted for me, and I urge each of them to fully support our city councilmembers and mayor in all efforts to improve our city.  There is so much work that still must be done to effectively rebuild all of New Orleans.  I urge everyone to stay engaged and continue to work daily for a safer, economically stronger, and more vibrant city.”

Salon takes Louisiana, Governor Jindal and education to school on education reform

While Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is getting rave national reviews among his conservative base where he is on the speaking circuit talking about his education reform, not everyone agrees with his brand of changing education in Louisiana or even the way it was done this legislative session.

Salon magazine has reprinted a column from which is not so flattering. 

Here are some of the statements made in the column:

Gov. Bobby Jindal has remade the Louisiana public schools system with impressive speed over the past legislative session. Last week, he signed into law a suite of landmark reform bills that will likely change the direction of public education in Louisiana forever. But not all change is good, and critics say both Jindal’s agenda and the strategy to move it come right from the playbook of conservative advocacy group ALEC, in an effort to revive Jindal’s national political profile….

 “With these laws Gov. Bobby Jindal has sold our kids out for his political aspirations,” said Karran Royal Harper, a Louisiana parent activist and education advocate…..

The bills all sprinted through the state legislature. Committee hearings were conducted at a breakneck speed, Democratic lawmakers complained, and members were asked to vote on amendments they didn’t actually understand. When the House took up a bill changing teacher-tenure rules, it ran the session past midnight, refusing to break until they called for a vote.

“There’s just so much more here than what our group can handle,” said Minh Nguyen, executive director of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans, a community advocacy group. “We don’t even have the capacity to handle all the bills that are being proposed right now and it’s been really challenging to us.”

ALEC’s 2010 “Report Card on American Education” (PDF) suggested that lawmakers overwhelm their opposition in exactly this manner. “Do not simply just introduce one reform in the legislature—build a consensus for reform and introduce a lot,” the report authors told ALEC members……

This is one of the reasons why Perry says the presence of ALEC in the school reform policy arena isn’t reason enough for an outcry. Not only is ALEC not the only conservative group pushing for a free market approach to public education, but “there are pillars of each party that push the agenda.”

“The question is more about: what is so compelling about their arguments that is helping advance their agendas? Again, Jindal has been able to usher this through partly because the traditionally based system has failed in many ways. And that’s just the reality.”

Bayoubuzz note: The Perry referred to in the column is Andre Perry, associate director of Loyola University’s New Orleans’ Institute for Quality and Equity in Education

Books by and about Governor Jindal from Amazon

 Louisiana’s legislative agenda update: (from the Governor’s Office)

Governor Bobby Jindal’s Package Progress – Thursday, April 26


Governor Package Bills Passed in the Senate Today:

HB 590 by Representative Karen St. Germain - Makes veterans who are currently exempt from paying a driver’s license fee also exempt from having to pay a fee to obtain an identification card.

  • Passed out of the Senate Committee on Transportation.

SB 579 by Senator Robert Adely - Maintains TOPS eligibility for servicemen and women choosing to reenlist.

  • Passed out of the Senate.

PAR issues report card

PAR Releases Analysis of Governor's Proposed Cash-Balance  

Retirement Plan for New State Employees     

Books about and by Bobby Jindal from Amazon

Bobby Jindal: The Transformational Story of a Brown-skinned, Die-hard Conservative in the Deep South by Xander Cricket (Paperback- Apr 7, 2009)


Leadership and Crisis by Bobby Jindal (Kindle Edition - Nov 15, 2010)



60 Minutes - Bobby Jindal (March 1, 2009) (Mar 17, 2009)



Louisiana governor takes state helicopter on visits to church services.(PEOPLE & EVENTS)(Bobby Jindal): An article from: Church & State by Gale Reference 

   PAR's report card on Governor JIndal's retirement plan

The Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana has released an analysis of the governor's proposed cash-balance retirement plan for new hires in state government service. The report provides background on the state retirement systems' unfunded liabilities and identifies the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed new system for employees, the state and taxpayers.  Click here for the full report.

 The report recommends that the state seek opportunities to lower taxpayer risks in the long run by considering new types of retirement plans for a new generation of state workers.  

 "A new retirement plan should be designed to lower the risk of generating further unfunded liabilities compared to the existing system," said PAR President Robert Travis Scott. "A new retirement plan should be less volatile and more pragmatic from the taxpayer point of view while also being fair and offering greater flexibility to new employees."

 Although a new plan would not remedy the state's existing unfunded accrued liability, it could provide a new retirement platform with less risk of repeating prior mistakes.

 The governor's cash-balance proposal has been presented as a candidate to fulfill this role. If passed, it would over time replace the existing defined benefit plan as the primary retirement program for most state workers.

 It would be unique among public sector plans: Few other state or local governments have adopted cash-balance plans and the governor's would appear to be the first to base employee interest credits on a rate of return tied to market performance. It has the advantage of providing at least a modest secure income base for retirees and an upside potential for them if investment markets cooperate. It is a less volatile but not riskless system for taxpayers.  

 The main benefit from the cash-balance plan potentially could come in the form of long-term cost savings by guaranteeing only the interest gained on employee retirement accounts. The state would not be promising a greater benefit than the gains achieved in the financial markets, thereby reducing the risk of accumulating unfunded liabilities.  

 However, under a cash-balance plan, employees would be protected in that their retirement accounts could not lose value. This protection runs a financial risk for the retirement systems. Actuarial estimates vary as to whether the plan would offer cost savings to the state. Tax dollars could be further protected if the plan were adjusted to allow the state to take more than a 1 percent buffer under certain highly favorable market conditions.  

 Decision-makers should design the program to provide employees a fair level of retirement benefits based on realistic expectations, especially considering the fact that Louisiana's state government workers do not participate in the federal Social Security program and therefore lack that financial cushion in their later years.

 The governor's plan would not be structured to provide for cost-of-living adjustments, which are beneficial to retirees but costly under the current system. The cash-balance compensation method would abandon the current "final pay" formula that leads to spiking and other bad effects and it would be portable upon departure from government service. However, some believe this aspect of the plan raises some risk of higher costs and a more conservative investment portfolio due to higher employee turnover.

 Proponents of a new plan should demonstrate that it would be cost-effective compared to the current plan: If retirement benefits for long-term workers are going to be lower under a cash-balance program, which appears to be the likely scenario, then the state's long-term expense of financing the plan should be lower also.

 Unfortunately, competing actuarial estimates offer wholly different views of the costs and impacts of the cash-balance program, so much so that the state might consider a third opinion. The administration needs to make a convincing argument that its plan is cost effective and that tax dollars will not continue to be spent at the same rate only to result in lower benefits to retirees.

 Ultimately, the impact of the cash-balance plan will depend on what takes place in the future with regard to investments and other unknown factors, and so the anticipated advantages of adopting the plan will vary depending on assumptions about those future events. Under most sets of assumptions, the cash-balance plan carries less risk than the current system of inflating the unfunded liabilities in the retirement systems.

 The state should be considering options for a new retirement system for new employees. If a new system is adopted, it should be designed in a way that encourages full funding, diminishes the prospect of unfunded liabilities and offers taxpayers some protections against the negative impacts of poor financial markets and overly optimistic investment projections.

 If the cash-balance proposal is deemed inadequate as the debate continues and more information about its potential impact is released, the state should not give up looking for the right solution for a new type of Louisiana retirement plan. 


 Healthcare reform and Louisiana

With healthcare reform still a very controversial issue in Louisiana with the majority of Louisiana voters opposed to the Obama and Democratic health care program, the Obama administration has issued this statement concerning the benefits of the healthcare law, to date:

President Obama’s health care law – the Affordable Care Act – gives hard working, middle-class families the security they deserve and includes a number of important provisions that help control health care costs.


One way the law helps hold down health care costs are new rules that generally require insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollars on health care and quality improvements instead of other activities like advertising, executive bonuses, or overhead. If insurance companies fail to meet this standard, they must provide a rebate to their customers.


The law calls this the “medical loss ratio” rule, but it’s commonly known as the 80/20 rule.


Yesterday, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 102,037 consumers in Louisiana will receive $7,444,419 in rebates solely because of the 80/20 rule.  This includes 17 percent of enrollees in the individual market in Louisiana for an average rebate of $126 per person.  Rebates to consumers will be delivered by August 1.  You can read the full report by visiting


And even if you don’t you receive a rebate, you may be benefitting from the new rule. Many insurance companies changed the way they do business or lowered their premiums to comply with the 80/20 rule.  


The 80/20 rule is just one way the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act:


  • 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance on their parent’s plan.
  • 5.1 million people with Medicare saved an average of $635 on the cost of their prescription drugs. And everyone on Medicare can get preventive services like mammograms for free.
  • Insurance companies cannot raise your premiums by 10 percent or more with no accountability.
  • It’s illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition. And in 2014, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition will be illegal. 

 Books about Health Care Reform from Amazon

While some want to go back to the days when insurance companies could deny your coverage or jack up your rates whenever and however they pleased without any accountability, we are committed to moving forward, implementing the Affordable Care Act and delivering the benefits of reform to the American people. For more information on the new health care law, go to


 Treasurer Kennedy

Louisiana Treasurer, John Kennedy has issued this column today regarding government employment in Louisiana, a very hot topic currently debated in the Louisiana legislature:

You may have read or heard that Louisiana state government is spending less of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars because it has fewer employees. That's not true.

It is accurate that we have reduced the number of state jobs over the past 6 years or so by 7%, or about 1.2% a year, mostly by not filling vacancies, but we are spending at least $650 million more on salaries and benefits after the reduction. In other words, we're going backwards.

A February 2012 report by the Legislative Auditor explains why. According to the Auditor, on June 30, 2005, Louisiana state government had 94,733 total positions in the executive branch. We had 83,533 on June 30, 2011. In the past 9 months, however, we have added 4,326 positions for a total of 87,859, according to the April 13, 2012 "warm body" report of the Department of State Civil Service. That's an overall decrease of 7% in a little over 6 years.

But here's the thing. In his report the Auditor also found that over this 6 year period Louisiana taxpayers are spending: 

  • $397 million more on salaries;
  • $47 million more on "other pay" (overtime, incentive pay, shift differential pay); and
  • $210 million more on benefits (health insurance and retirement).

That's $650 million additional taxpayer dollars despite the reduction of 6,874 positions. And, according to the Auditor, that doesn't even include the increased spending on "other pay" and benefits for higher education that the Auditor "could not determine" (see page 11 of his report) because higher education has its own separate computer system.

This is unacceptable. The state budget has increased $6 billion since 2005, or 32%, without counting federal "hurricane dollars." We now know one of the reasons why.

Every unnecessary taxpayer dollar state government spends to lead the South in the number of state jobs adjusted for population is a dollar less we have to invest in roads, schools, universities, health care, coastal restoration and small business development. Every dollar we spend on unnecessary labor costs is a dollar less we have to return to taxpayers, through lower taxes, to spend on themselves, their children and their retirement.

Other states do their jobs with fewer employees. If they can do it, Louisiana can too. 

Don't take my word for it. Read the Legislative Auditor's report yourself.  Go to and click on "reports & data." 

Louisiana taxpayers deserve better. Louisiana state government can do better. 


Inside the Carnival: Unmasking Louisiana Politics by Wayne Parent (Paperback - Aug 21, 2006)



TRUST: A Story of Faith, Prep Sports, and Louisiana Politics by Lisa Arceri (Kindle


Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics [VHS] Starring Jimmie Davis, David Duke, Edwin

Movies & TV: See all 4 items



Bourbonism and Agrarian Protest: Louisiana Politics, 1877-1900 by William Ivy Hair (Paperback - Dec 1, 1969)


Canvas Print, The Blue Krewe - Louisiana - 12x18 by ClassicPix



Edwin Edwards: Governor of Louisiana by Leo Honeycutt (Kindle Edition - Feb 15, 2011)



Earl K. Long: The Saga of Uncle Earl and Louisiana Politics (Southern Biography) by Michael L. Kurtz and Morgan D. Peoples (Paperback- Feb 19, 1992)

District Announces Launch of Baton Rouge Achievement Zone with Entergy, LSU, Southern,
BRCC, BRAC, LFCC, New Schools Baton Rouge, and Other Partners

Baton Rouge, La. - Today, the Recovery School District (RSD), along with several key Baton Rouge business and industry partners, educational leaders and community and non-profit organizations, announced the launch of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone (BRAZ), an innovative reform model to address the needs of children currently attending low-performing schools in the parish by working collaboratively with parents and engaging community and business partners. The BRAZ, which will impact five local schools and approximately 10,000 students, will have a significant impact on turning around student learning and achievement. Each of the five schools in The Zone failed to meet the state's minimum School Performance Score and thus earned the Academically Unacceptable label for at least three years.

Joining the RSD during the announcement to lead the innovative approach to transform schools in the Baton Rouge community were the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Entergy, Louisiana State University, Southern University, Baton Rouge Community College (BRCC), Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC), Capital Area United Way, Living Faith Christian Center (LFCC), New Schools Baton Rouge, Teach For America, Education's Next Horizon, Object 9, and the Urban League of New Orleans.

The five schools participating in the initial launch of the Achievement Zone are Istrouma High School, Capitol High School, Glen Oaks Middle School, Dalton Elementary School and Lanier Elementary School.

Entergy, a leading partner in the effort, helped lay the framework for the Achievement Zone concept last year when they established a shared model where educational attainment is promoted through a holistic approach of schools, business, community and parents working together.

"We are pleased to have Entergy and our other partners join us to announce the launch of the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone. Our goal is to help turn around failing schools and provide the best opportunities for student achievement and success," said RSD Superintendent Patrick Dobard. "The RSD has done an exceptional job in New Orleans of providing both the autonomy and accountability needed by schools to help address the needs of students. We look forward to using these same strategies in Baton Rouge to place students on a sustainable path to be both college and career ready." 

"The expansion of the Istrouma School Zone into the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone is a milestone in our ongoing commitment to the communities where we live and work," said Steven Scheurich, vice president of customer service and external affairs for Entergy's Louisiana utilities. "Since our launch last fall we've proven that partnerships between business, community and education leaders can result in positive outcomes for children, providing much needed resources for schools and rich experiences for students to help prepare them to be effective employees and lead productive, healthy lives."

"In partnership with the RSD, we are committed to continuing our work with Istrouma," Scheurich added, "and look forward to expanding the initiative and working hand-in-hand with more partners, schools and communities to create brighter futures for children within the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone."

Presently, nearly half of students attending public schools in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System are performing below grade level.  Forty-five percent of these students attend schools in a contiguous three zip code area of North Baton Rouge, comprising nearly 10,000 students. 

The Baton Rouge Achievement Zone is focused on addressing the needs of the 10,000 students to ensure their overall success and to guarantee that every child will be college and/or career ready upon graduation. The BRAZ will focus on three core principles - engaging partnerships to anchor strategic school reform in Greater Baton Rouge, building the demand from parents, community, and government for higher school accountability and better school choices; accelerating the launch of excellent new schools through smart philanthropy and collaboration with government to meet transformation and innovation needs; and creating a reform marketplace that fosters competition, builds entrepreneurial capacity, and provides high quality options for school support organizations and services.

Initially, the RSD will direct-run the five schools before converting them to Type 5 charters or empowered schools.  

Empowered schools are a management strategy that can be implemented under any governance structure.  As empowered schools, school leaders are given more autonomy, direct control over hiring and firing, as well as the ability to offer different curriculum implementation strategies than currently offered in a regular school setting.  The empowered schools will be managed by the RSD.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools governed by their own boards of directors. And while charter schools are free from some of the regulations governing traditional public schools, charter schools are held accountable for student achievement and other results and are required to participate in the state's accountability system, abide by curriculum requirements, and ensure the qualifications of instructional staff.

The proposed timeline for the charter conversion is as follows:

April 2012 - The RSD will determine what direct-run and Memorandum of Understanding/Management Agreement schools will be converted to empowered schools for the 2012-2013 school year, based on need and capacity.

August 2012 - The first RSD empowered schools will open. The RSD will continue to oversee/operate schools that are not yet converted to empowered status.

Spring 2013 - The RSD will determine which schools to convert to empowered schools for fall 2013. All other remaining schools will be eligible to be chartered for fall 2013.

The Louisiana Department of Education will release the 2012 Call for Quality Schools Request for Applications (RFA) on Friday, April 27. Charter Management Organizations can apply to run a charter in the Achievement Zone upon release of the RFA. The RSD's goal for their five schools in the RFA is to have them chartered in 2013.

U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu said "The Baton Rouge Achievement Zone marks a commitment to bold reform in our state's capital. Too many schools in North Baton Rouge are not providing their students with the education they deserve. By creating a Baton Rouge Achievement Zone, the Recovery School District is launching a transformative effort to turn around the concentration of failing schools in this community. I applaud the RSD for building on lessons learned from the turnaround efforts underway in New Orleans while also reaching out to community stakeholders to learn how to tailor their reform approach for North Baton Rouge."

The model for the participating schools will be based on the successes and lessons learned by the Recovery School District in implementing the nation's largest and most successful charter-based school operation, just 90 minutes away from Baton Rouge, in New Orleans.

The RSD's model in New Orleans has been based on providing school-level leadership with maximum autonomy to make decisions, along with assigned clear and measurable accountability standards.

To date, the RSD has seen notable progress in the charter schools in New Orleans. 

RSD charter schools saw tremendous student progress since 2007, increasing their average School Performance Score from 52 to 78.

Students in all RSD schools saw proficiency on state standardized tests rise from 23 percent to 48 percent in 2011, the fastest rate of progress in Louisiana.

By 2011, 36 percent of special education students in RSD schools were performing at grade level, an increase from 11 percent in 2005.

African-American students in New Orleans now out-perform African-American students statewide.

Partners participating in the Achievement Zone offered their support and endorsement of the creative and innovative approach of working with community partners to address school needs.

"The new LSU College of Human Science and Education is looking forward to a partnership that will lead to improving the learning environment and educational support and opportunities in the Achievement Zone. Our faculty is dedicated to helping children and families receive the support and guidance they need to succeed in school and to open doors to careers and post-graduate education," said Laura Lindsey, dean of the LSU College of Human Science and Education.

"Southern University welcomes the opportunity to continue doing what we do best, taking students from where they are scholastically and then moving them to where they ought to be," said Southern University Chancellor James L. Llorens. "Southern University, our College of Education and School of Nursing will dedicate all of the resources available to address the variables impacting student achievement."

"Baton Rouge Community College has always viewed the pursuit of excellence as a community effort," said BRCC Chancellor Andrea Lewis Miller. "We are excited at this chance to expand our work with our regional partners to provide quality education and equal access to opportunities for all citizens of our global community."

"The proposal to form a Baton Rouge Achievement Zone is an exciting opportunity to create a national best practice for education in North Baton Rouge," said Adam Knapp, President and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. "School turnaround is challenging; for the families that might be touched by this zone, it represents hope for better education for their children. BRAC looks forward to a positive dialogue between EBR Schools and the State in pursuing this exciting partnership."

"Today is an opportunity to reveal the success potential that has always existed in our young people. If we make them our focus then the outcome will be a win for all in our communities," said Bishop Raymond Johnson of Living Faith Christian Center.

"New Schools for Baton Rouge is being launched to support the work of East Baton Rouge and the Recovery School District in creating excellent schools for all students in north Baton Rouge. We must create new partnerships if we are to realize the goal that each and every one of the 10,000 scholars attending school in the Achievement Zone have access to an excellent school where he or she is on track for college and career success," said Chris Meyer, Founder and CEO, New Schools Baton Rouge.

"Teach For America is proud to be a partner in the Baton Rouge Achievement Zone," said Michael Tipton, executive director of Teach For America in South Louisiana. "This community-wide partnership marks an important investment in our children's future and we're excited to take steps towards ensuring that one day soon, every child in our community has the excellent education they deserve."

The RSD welcomes partners to join the new Rouge Achievement Zone initiative. To inquire about becoming a partner, contact RSD-LA Chief of Staff Nikki Diamantes at [email protected]" target="_blank">[email protected].

For more information about the Recovery School District, visit

by Stephen Sabludowsky, Publisher of

Books about and by Bobby Jindal from Amazon

Bobby Jindal: The Transformational Story of a Brown-skinned, Die-hard Conservative in the Deep South by Xander Cricket (Paperback- Apr 7, 2009)


Leadership and Crisis by Bobby Jindal (Kindle Edition - Nov 15, 2010)



60 Minutes - Bobby Jindal (March 1, 2009) (Mar 17, 2009)



Louisiana governor takes state helicopter on visits to church services.(PEOPLE & EVENTS)(Bobby Jindal): An article from: Church & State by Gale Reference 


zimmermanHow is race and politics impacting the Martin, Zimmerman case?  Discuss this topic by clicking here.



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