Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on an end run on textbooks:
Without knowing the background, there is no apparent reason to object to a bill in the Legislature that would give local school districts more freedom to choose the textbooks they use.
Unless you remember that the sponsor of House Bill 116, Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, has a history of opposition to standard science textbooks.
Hoffman was among the legislators and critics of evolution who tried to block adoption of standard biology textbooks in 2010. Fortunately, a committee that included responsible educators refused to go along with the objections raised by Hoffman and extremely conservative religious groups. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education backed the experts, despite political pressure from the Louisiana Family Forum, closely allied to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
These latter-day flat-earthers push "alternatives" to evolution — a thinly veiled effort to introduce into public-school classrooms, and substitute for evolutionary science's discoveries, the Bible's story of Genesis.
Thus, Hoffman's bill is not, as he said, about "autonomy for the local school systems." It is about subverting expert review to allow alternative texts, which we believe will set science education back in this state.
Sadly, the state Department of Education is in league with Hoffman: Erin Bendily, assistant superintendent, said the bill dovetails with the department's efforts to hold local school leaders accountable for results, without micromanaging them. Hoffman said a state-recommended textbook list still will be developed, and he said he expects 98 percent of books to be taken from that list. ...
She is right. Those few exceptions allowed by the Hoffman bill could leave Louisiana children with the mistaken impression than the Earth is only about 6,000 years old — one of the theories pushed by anti-evolution groups.
Hasn't Louisiana been embarrassed enough by creationism and its successive versions intended to be more politically saleable? We urge lawmakers to reject the Hoffman bill and other efforts to push political and religious agendas in science education.
The News-Star, Monroe, La. on school systems deserving a vote:
Rural school systems in northeastern Louisiana are suffering financially.
In some communities, the dollars assigned to public schools are following the students to charter and voucher schools. In others, the tax base that supports the schools has shrunk as businesses have closed.
Two rural systems have tax proposals on today's ballot. The editorial board does not offer a recommendation on either proposal, but we encourage residents of these school districts to go to the polls and vote.
The Morehouse Parish School Board is asking voters to consider a 9-mil, 10-year property tax that will generate between $730,000 and $750,000 per year.
The funds will be used to create a sixth-grade school at the former Eastside Elementary School to serve about 200 students.
In Union Parish, two tax proposals are on the ballot. Both are new property taxes; one a 20-year bond issue to fund renovations and the other a 10-year millage for operations.
The $55 million in bond money will fund school bus purchases and renovations to existing schools, all of which were built in the 1950s.
The district's plan will touch every school: Bernice, Farmerville, Marion, Spearsville, Downsville Charter and Union Parish Middle/High School. The renovations will upgrade technology infrastructure and facilities.
Residents of these parishes should make their voices heard at the ballot box today. School officials deserve to know what you want to happen in your public schools.
The Courier, Houma, La., on voters making a sound decision on taxes:
It was a day for deciding the fates of taxes.
In Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes alone, there were five separate tax issues on the local ballots.
The measures had a split result.
Terrebonne Parish voters soundly rejected a more than quadrupling of their school property taxes, and Bayou Blue voters voted down a nearly 10-mill increase in their recreation taxes, but a parish-wide question on joining the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District — which will come with a 2-mill tax — passed.
And none of the results were really close.
The Bayou Blue tax failed by a nearly 2-1 vote. And the parish-wide schools tax failed by a more than 3-1 margin. But the question on the water district passed by a nearly 2-1 vote.
The results, taken together, show that voters are more than able to distinguish between various issues on the same ballot.
And it's a good thing, too.
The question of whether to join the Bayou Lafourche Fresh Water District is a clear choice.
Terrebonne is nearing the end of its 40-year agreement with the district that supplies the majority of its drinking water. It will have to negotiate a new contract, which would have come with a user fee of at least $4 per month per household.
The 2-mill tax will come out much less than the projected $48 a year the user fee would have cost.
Membership in the district also comes with a bit of political power. Because Terrebonne will be in the district, it will have four seats on the board that oversees it — as many as any other member parish.
Had voters rejected membership, Terrebonne would have been negotiating its contract without a seat on the board now or in future negotiations.
As it is, Terrebonne's home- and business owners will see a slight increase on their tax bills, but they won't see anywhere near the expense that would have come with a user fee to cover the added water expenses.
Asking voters to approve a new tax is never an easy proposition, and it is one that local leaders should not take lightly.
However, when a strong, compelling case is laid out for why a tax is necessary and the best option available, local voters have shown they can be trusted to make the right decision.
No one wants to pay more taxes, and no one should have to unless there is a good reason to do so. In this case, there was, and the voters picked the best available alternative.