Sunday, January 31, 2010

Don't Lie, Jeff Crouere

This fetish that old school local white people have with blaming Moon Landrieu for the fall of New Orleans continues to fascinate me. It is both amusing and sad, and it lives on as displayed by a recent piece by Jeff Crouere.

"Since the beginning of the Moon Landrieu administration, the population of New Orleans has declined by approximately 300,000 people, going from over 600,000 in the early 70’s to just over 300,000 today."[Jeff Crouere,, 1-22-2010]

A quick Google search yields numerous hits showing Census numbers which placed New Orleans' population at 627,525 in 1960 and 593,471 in 1970. The population began its decline before Moon Landrieu took office in 1970 and was already below 600,000 by then. Also, I wasn't even born yet, but I do know that urban decline was a national phenomenon during that time that can hardly be blamed on Moon Landrieu. In addition to New Orleans, a number of cities' populations peaked between 1950 and 1960 followed by a precipitous loss of people since then, among them: San Francisco, Oakland, Birmingham, Mobile, Hartford, New Haven, D.C., Augusta, Savannah, Chicago, Gary, Des Moines, Sioux City, Louisville, Baltimore, Boston...I think you get the point. Jeff Crouere, however, apparently does not.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Faith in Haiti

These don't look like the devil-deal making type of folks Pat Robertson made them out to be. Over the course of history, many Protestants have looked askance at the Catholic religion and our "idolatry"; and I wonder if that sort of thinking is also the source of Pat Robertson's ridiculous statements since Haiti is 80% Roman Catholic. But I tell you this, I and most people I know, regardless of our religions, would choose to have the faith displayed in this video by the people of Haiti any day of the week over that of Pat Robertson's.

Also, as a Katrina survivor, I want people to know that then, just as now and despite the media focus on a "breakdown of society," most people pull together and do not descend into chaos. Please don't mistake anguished pleas for help, whether to God or to the cameraman, as a sign of impending chaos -- especially if you've never found yourself in such a situation. Just hush your mouth, show some compassion, and do something to help even if it's just a prayer or sending a check to get relief on the ground.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Just Shut Up, Chief Riley

"Riley said the recent release of a poll - showing that only 33 percent of citizens are satisfied with the NOPD - was timed to dissuade him from entering politics. The poll was unveiled by business leaders shortly before the political qualifying period. Riley also alleged The Times-Picayune chose that week to release several negative stories about him." [T-P, 1/10/2010]

Chief Riley,
You can bitch and moan all you want, which you're exceptionally good at by the way, but I would like to say to you from one black man to another that you're so missing the boat if you think the timing of that poll and those news stories were to dissuade you from running for office. Besides, we all know you're aware that the local media runs negative stories about you year-round because you're constantly complaining about it year-round.

What should have dissuaded you from entering politics is the fact nobody, including the scores of black citizens who have lost their children to murder and crime and/or who have been harassed, hassled, and unjustifiably arrested by NOPD, wants to vote for your ass. Period.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Here's an Idea for Improving Student Test Scores

$150 million for improving accountability measures?

If Louisiana is selected by the U.S. Department of Education for the grants, about half the money would be distributed to districts to help with programs aimed at helping the poorest performing schools improve their rankings and student test results. Stronger accountability measures and teacher evaluations would be part of the process. [T-P, 1-9-2010]

I'm all for accountability, but here's an idear: How about spending the money on mental health services and more special education resources like more individualized supports, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy or on-campus health clinics or supports for parents to help their kids do better in school -- you know, all of the things that research has actually shown to help kids perform better in school.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Where is the Stimulus Money for RSD Students?

A recent T-P article raised questions about the shortage of teachers and services in RSD's schools. RSD maintains it has a sufficient amount of teachers, but I can vouch from my ongoing interaction with RSD on behalf of my clients -- or lack thereof to be more precise -- that not only are there not enough staff available, but that RSD is standing firm its resolve to not provide staffing and services that even Stevie Wonder could see is needed.

In that Dec. 26th article, RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas said:
"We actually have not downsized staff as much as some of our budget and finance people would have liked," he said. The district had a pot of one-time federal recovery money three years ago that is now largely gone. [T-P, 12/26/09]
Funding shouldn't be the main barrier because in July 2009, the state enthusiastically announced the dedication of stimulus funds to servicing at-risk students:

The flow-through funding that will be dispersed to Louisiana through stimulus funds over the next two years almost doubles the funding that districts would have received for at-risk students. This funding represents a significant increase for local districts, and I know we are all eager to see that we take full advantage of this opportunity.”

In addition to the recommendations developed by the Tiger Team, the Department has also developed an Accountability Document, which it will utilize to track the use of ARRA funds in each district. Each district’s Accountability Document will be updated and published by the Department on a quarterly basis.[LA Division of Administration press release, 7/7/2009]

In fact, teams of local school superintendents, called Tiger Teams and tasked with compiling the state’s blueprint for the effective use of stimulus funds, stated at the time:

Our state will receive almost double the regular federal allocations through ARRA. More than 372 million dollars will flow through to districts to help improve student achievement, statewide. [Tiger Team Recommendations]
Those recommendations also said: something, something, "Recruit and retain teachers," something, something, whatever.I'm paraphrasing, of course. Hey, Mr. Vallas, would you mind checking your notes and getting back to us with another excuse? Here, I'll even help. Look in the file labeled: "Meetings, Tiger Team."