Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on deterring bad habits with tax hikes:
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals says, "Tobacco doesn't just kill. It leads to many chronic diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease, all of which can cause long-term suffering."
With cooperation among federal and nonprofit agencies, the department is pushing Louisianians who want to quit to take steps to kick the habit.
Among those people? Dial up 1-800-Quit-Now and find out how to get assistance.
But strikingly in conjunction with the anti-smoking campaign, the Louisiana Legislature will adjourn without providing a market-based deterrent to the habit, a tobacco tax increase.
We deplore the determined opposition of Gov. Bobby Jindal to an increase in cigarette and other tobacco taxes, even though he embraced the idea earlier in the year as part of a more general tax code rewrite.
True, it's not a huge revenue-raiser, but if we increased our tax to the level of Texas, the state of Louisiana — hobbling through budget cuts to colleges and universities — could find a valuable use for the money.
A significant tobacco tax increase would help deter young people from taking up the habit.
Anti-tax political purity is thus more important to the administration than public health.
"We know that smoking remains a major public health problem in Louisiana," said Takeisha Davis, medical director for the Office of Public Health.
Would that we would use tax policy to do what so many other states have done, deter the onset of a very bad habit.
The Times, Shreveport, La., on how Step Forward is headed in right direction:
How can we better educate our children from cradle to career? That's the primary question being posed by a new effort developing in northwest Louisiana thanks to Step Forward.
Their approach, outlined in a recent gathering of about 80 community leaders and a meeting with The Times editorial board, challenges business, faith, education, civic and non-profit groups to come together to find ways to improve student achievements and guide them on to careers in which they can not only survive, but thrive.
Step Forward is a Community Foundation initiative that's being spearheaded by Carolyn Spaht. Spaht is a Shreveport native whose former jobs included stints as chief of staff and assistant superintendent in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and as executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based Communities in Schools.
We applaud Community Foundation, Spaht and the Step Forward steering committee in getting this effort off the ground. ...
Modeled on the Strive Network, a nationally recognized reform effort out of Cincinnati, Step Forward aims to create "productive citizens" in our community by aligning the efforts already underway in Bossier, Caddo and DeSoto parishes toward that goal.
"This is not an effort to recreate or do a new project, but find those places of excellence that are already in the community and building on those," Hickman said.
While most of what they are currently working on is a draft form to set up the structure and goals for Step Forward, the initiative is already sparking excitement and energy about bettering education that we expect to see develop and grow in the coming months. Commitment, accountability and partnership are key to this effort, Tyler said. "We want to focus and come together as true partners."
And what we find refreshing about Step Forward is its holistic approach to betting our community. For instance, Spaht identifies three key factors for a thriving citizen in our community. "Good education, good understanding of what it means to be a citizen in this community and the third is economics. Do you have a job?"
Ultimately, we, as a community, must discover a way to fit all those pieces together to make a whole that works here. And that effort must go beyond offering just what the state's education system is focused on.
Indeed, Hickman points out that achieving a collective impact is imperative. The bottom line, though, is we must begin to change the way we are thinking about educating our children from the moment they are born and do a better job of creating a culture of learning all around us in every part of the community. We look forward to the promises offered by Step Forward, but the hard work is just starting for both the initiative and this community.
The News-Star, Monroe, La., on supporting an international treasure:
If you have ever visited Poverty Point State Historic Site, you know that it is much more than a local treasure. It's an international gem.
But Poverty Point, like so many other state-funded institutions, has suffered from Louisiana's budgetary woes. That's why the development of a regional — and perhaps national— support system for this important archaeological site is so important.
A new nonprofit organization has been formed to support Poverty Point. The organization, Advocates for Poverty Point, developed as an outgrowth of the nomination of Poverty Point for the World Heritage List, said Gary Stringer, president of the nonprofit and professor emeritus of geology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. ...
Poverty Point was nominated earlier this year to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The world list includes 962 sites in 157 countries designated as the most significant cultural and natural sites on the planet. Only 21 sites in the United States are listed as a World Heritage Site.
The official mission of Advocates for Poverty Point is to raise public awareness, to perform educational outreach and development, to communicate and advocate with governmental branches, and to raise funds for the benefit of the Poverty Point State Historic Site and the archaeology program.
The Office of State Parks — which manages Poverty Point and is under the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism in the Office of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne — has been assisting the group with its organization.
Stringer said the organization will soon begin its membership drive. People of all ages will be encouraged to participate.
We look forward to the opportunity to help Poverty Point gain World Heritage recognition, and hope when the opportunity arises to support this effort, you will consider it as well.