Feb 252013

Owen Courreges

At this point, there should be little doubt in anyone’s mind that the City of New Orleans opposes the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008, an “academic freedom” act transparently designed to facilitate the teaching of creationism in public schools.  In May of 2011, the New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to support legislation aimed at repealing the LSEA, and just this past December, the Orleans Parish School Board unanimously voted to ban the teaching of “creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.”

The actual language of the LSEA seems relatively innocuous at first blush.  It merely allows schools to “foster an environment … that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories being studied including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”  It later provides that that the LSEA “shall not be construed to promote any religious doctrine, promote discrimination for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, or promote discrimination for or against religion or nonreligion.”

Still, that last bit is just a fig leaf.  Creationism can still be introduced into the classroom as an alternative “science,” and the fact remains that evolutionary biology is specifically targeted. Continue reading »

Feb 242013

Leona Tate, who was one of three young girls to integrate the McDonogh 19 school in 1961, discusses her continuing efforts to improve public education in New Orleans at a Sunday night mixer at Oak Wine Bar. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

A “unity piece” given to civil-rights hero Leona Tate by members of the Orleans Public Education Network on Sunday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

In a show of unity that spans generations, a hero of the civil rights movement who endured death daily threats as a 6-year-old integrating her New Orleans school joined forces Sunday night with a relatively new group of local education activists — many of whom were born decades after her first day of school faded from the headlines. Continue reading »

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Feb 232013

Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Back in the early days of his mayoral tenure, before things began to fall apart, Clarence Ray Nagin was a rock star. He didn’t know much about city government but he was cool, glib and very optimistic.

Did the city need an infusion of money? He’d sell the airport. Continue reading »

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Feb 222013

James Weldon Johnson Elementary School on Monroe Street.

A group of Carrollton residents say they were told this week by Recovery School District officials that Sophie B. Wright Charter School will be the first occupants of the James Weldon Johnson School swing space this fall, spending two years there while their Napoleon Avenue building is renovated.

The residents were also told that cost estimates have been reached for renovations to the long-abandoned Priestley site in their own neighborhood, they say.

RSD officials have not responded to requests to confirm accounts of the meetings this week. Continue reading »

Feb 222013

Craig Giesecke

If you’ve ever built a house or otherwise been involved in construction or extensive remodeling of a building, you know any contractor’s standard answer is “two weeks.” You also know only too well how, particularly in this city, the wheels of the public utilities and their regulatory minions in city government grind v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y –- unless, of course, you’re late paying a bill. Continue reading »

Feb 222013

The two-day Tulane Summit on Environmental Law & Policy, which runs today (Friday) and Saturday, will feature panel discussions on topics of local interest such as fracking, coal export terminals, Hurricane Sandy aftermath, water management in New Orleans, Louisiana’s scenic rivers, lessons from the BP spill, sea levels in South Louisiana, the Gulf Dead Zone and a keynote presentation by Yvon Chouinard, founder of the Patagonia outdoor clothing company. Continue reading »

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Feb 222013

Following news that the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament intend to close Xavier Prep at the end of the year, school officials and alumni are organizing a meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Charter School on Caffin Avenue in the Lower Ninth Ward to discuss ways to keep the 98-year-old institution open, reports Maya Rodriguez of our partners at WWL-TV:

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Feb 212013

The owner of Jimmy’s Music Club may be taking his fight to reopen his renowned club straight to City Hall, but a group of Carrollton neighborhood residents told him Thursday night that they aren’t his problem.

In fact, the Carrollton-Riverbend Neighborhood Association said, they’d like to sit down and try to figure out a way to support him. Continue reading »