Louisiana’s high school graduation rate remains on the bottom rungs of the national ladder — 47th — and despite this year’s Legislative session being largely focused on public education reforms, curbing the state’s perpetually high rate of dropouts somehow got lost in the shuffle.
According to a 2011 study released by the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, 8,797 — 17 percent — of the freshmen who entered high school in 2006 dropped out before their 2010 graduation. That figure, known as the Cohort Dropout Rate, is a calculation of the number of freshmen who quit school within a four year period and is considered by experts to be the most accurate way to measure the performance of a state’s public education system.
Looking at the total number of dropouts also is useful in determining the demographics of high school dropouts, but does not take into account the number of students who quit but later return to school. For Louisiana, 56,000 students dropped out between 2006 and 2010, and of those, the PAR study shows that 59 percent were male and two-thirds were black students.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting, in an attempt to curb the state’s dropout enigma, launched an effort last year to put more of a spotlight on the issue in a program called “Dropout Dilemma: Louisiana’s Education Crisis.” The nonprofit LPB readdressed the issue again recently through a Sept. 21 episode of “Louisiana: The State We’re In.”
Despite slipping through the cracks of this year’s education-focused Legislative session, the dropout issue has definitely not escaped the minds of Lafayette Parish School System officials.
As the percentage of Louisiana’s high school dropouts has steadily inched downward, going from 18.5 percent in 2006/2007 to 16.9 percent for the 2009/2010 school year, the dropout rate among Lafayette Parish students has mirrored that trend, dropping from 20 percent in 2006/2007 to 17.1 in 2009/2010.
Preliminary data for the 2010/2011 school year estimates the dropout rate in Lafayette Parish at 15 percent, just 0.4 percentage points higher than the state average. Local momentum to make an even greater change has grown in recent years, first with the creation in 2009 of the Lafayette Public Education Stakeholders Council — a combination of 13 civic organizations and public entities focused on education reform — followed by the selection of LPSS Superintendent Pat Cooper to lead Lafayette Parish Schools.
A more concerted push is now underway to raise graduation rates, largely among students in north Lafayette’s struggling schools, where poverty is more prevalent and the dropout rate is higher than in other areas of the parish. October’s IND Monthly will further examine the initiative to improve the dropout rate at Northside High School, where a new high school principal, handpicked by Cooper, is using a unique approach in her efforts to erase the stigma that less high school graduates come from north Lafayette.
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.