Page 10

news + views page 9

scaramanga and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who had discovered schools using the textbooks in classes throughout the U.K. ACe-curriculum schools, they claimed, taught creationism, the “benefits” of apartheid, Noah’s Ark — and that the Loch Ness monster is a living plesiosaur, a dinosaur whose existence disproves evolution. in 2011, Rachel Tabachnick wrote a series of lengthy articles for the website Alternet.org about the state of Christian academy curricula in the U.s., particularly those funded by voucher programs, mostly in Florida but also voucher programs in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and wisconsin. This year, Jindal’s education “re-

form” program introduced vouchers for public school students to attend private schools, provided the schools meet certain requirements. The DOe unveiled the schools applying for those funds, and listed how many scholarships met preliminary approval. As the voucher program was underway in Louisiana, newspapers in scotland picked up news that some of the teaching materials used at approved schools contain ACe textbooks — the ones floating Nessie as a real-life dinosaur. Loch Ness, being a treasured scottish landmark, gave readers a laugh-out-loud headline (“How American fundamentalist schools are using Nessie to disprove evolution” read The Herald

Scotland). similar headlines took the story viral, with jabs from everyone from political website wonkette to Mother Jones and The Washington Post — all over a not-so-new story, one that’s hardly unique to Louisiana, and the contents of a 17-year-old textbook that may not even be used in 2012. But the spotlight was on Louisiana — not ACe, the company earning the school’s dollars and printing the materials, nor the program itself, nor any of the other states that use ACe materials in their schools. “The darn thing has gone viral,” Forrest said, “and we have a lot more solid material we can consult in order to establish that paying public dollars to fund

religious schools is a really bad idea.” Less noticed outside the state was a May 2012 story published in the Monroe newspaper The News-Star, which detailed the lack of facilities at a Christian school in Ruston that had been approved for135 student vouchers. earlier this month, leaked emails printed by The News-Star showed DOe superintendent John white emailing Jindal staffers in response, and writing he would “create a news story” to “talk through the process with the media, muddying up a narrative they’re trying to keep black and white.” it was more substantial and less sexy than a story about southerners and sea monsters, but it wasn’t reprinted around the world.

Bob Marshall, whose future with the organization had been unclear, told his colleagues and friends he had rejected a job offer from the NOLA Media Group. Marshall, a graduate of Tulane University, is a 40-year veteran of the paper and a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. As of press time, NOLA Media Group was still advertising reporting and other positions on the website JournalismJobs.com, as well as on Craigslist New Orleans. — KeviN ALLMAN

phone theft in April. McCarthy testified last week he was listening to a police scanner when he heard a conversation between two police officers in which the ranking officer seemed to be instructing his subordinate to downgrade the incident from a theft to a “signal 21,” meaning “lost or stolen property.” Lori Mince, an attorney for the newspaper, said that unlike thefts, signal 21s are not included in Uniform Crime Report (UCR) statistics collected by the U.s. Department of Justice. if crimes are systematically downgraded, it can significantly skew the city’s official crime rate by underreporting major crimes. — CHARLes MALDONADO

scuttlebutt Quotes of the week

Gambit > bestofneworleans.com > july 10 > 2012

“i actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s founding fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools. … Unfortunately it will not be limited to the founders’ religion. we need to ensure that it does not open the door to fund radical islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. i do not support using public funds for teaching islam anywhere here in Louisiana.” — State Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, quoted in the Livingston Parish News. Watson voted for Gov. Bobby Jindal’s voucher program, which allows tax dollars to be used to send children from failing public school to private and faith-based schools. Hodges said she thought she was voting for “giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.”

10

“what’s to stop this administration — we know the First Lady is very keen on us eating healthy — why not tax people for not eating tofu?” — Gov. Bobby Jindal on a conference call with reporters July 5, once again taking a national platform to attack the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). The high court upheld the constitutionality of the health care plan by saying it fell within Congress’ power to levy taxes. Jindal spent much of last week on a Midwestern bus tour shadowing President Barack Obama’s bus tour, stumping for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

signs of the times (Picayune) legislators contribute to drive to save the daily paper

The “save the Picayune” campaignstyle yard signs popping up around town this week are being funded by an unusual source — five New Orleansarea members of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Reps. Neil Abramson, Wesley Bishop, Jared Brossett, Walt Leger and Helena Moreno have chipped in personally to pay for the signs, which are free to anyone who emails saveOurTP@ gmail.com. Abramson told Gambit it’s a genuine and heartfelt response to news that their city’s hometown paper would be scaling back print production to three days a week in October. “we see the value the Times-Picayune employees have to the city,” Abramson said, “and we see the need the city has for a

newspaper seven days a week.” Asked if there’s any possible impropriety in a group of politicians publicly (and financially) supporting a newspaper that covers them, Abramson said no. “You could look at it that we may be ticking off the paper’s editorial board [with the signs],” he said, “so i guess it cuts both ways.” The initial order is for 500 lawn placards, which began being distributed July 6. Abramson declined to discuss how much the representatives had chipped in, but said, “if they run out [of signs], we’ll make more.” Meanwhile, the paper saw two more high-profile departures last week. Crime reporter Brendan McCarthy, who had turned down a job offer with the new NOLA Media Group, confirmed he had accepted a position as an investigative reporter at wwL-Tv, just as fellow reporter David Hammer did the week before. Outdoors editor

t-P entitled to complete report city to appeal ruling in reporter’s open records suit

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Lloyd Medley ruled last week that Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) violated the Louisiana Public Records Law by failing to produce a full police report requested by Brendan McCarthy, crime reporter for The Times-Picayune, in April. NOPD handed over the report in May, but all identifying victim information was blacked out. The newspaper filed suit in late June demanding the full record. On July 2, Medley ordered the city to turn over the full incident report immediately. However, the judge said the city may delay producing the full report if it chooses to appeal his ruling. in an emailed statement, Landrieu’s spokesman Ryan Berni said the city will appeal. “This was a matter of protecting victims of crime,” Berni wrote. “we have consistently provided more transparency and openness in city government and will do so within the bounds of the law.” The lawsuit stems from an alleged

Pulling the plug lt. governor slams cuts to libraries, cultural programs

Louisiana’s 2012-2013 state budget eliminated all state library grants, which have been used by local library systems to pay for internet service and other technology expenses. The savings to the overall state budget is relatively small — the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT) was asking for $896,000 — but Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, whose office administers CRT, told Gambit last week the cut will have an outsized impact. “it’s going to have a very significant impact on libraries, particularly the rural ones,” Dardenne said. Libraries in larger, urban parishes won’t likely feel any pain from the cuts. The New Orleans Public Library’s $12.5 million 2012 operating budget comes entirely from a local millage. Last year, it received only $13,000 from the state, according

Gambit: July 10, 2012  

New Orleans news and entertainment

Gambit: July 10, 2012  

New Orleans news and entertainment