Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:
The Houma (La.) Today on pursuit of educational excellence:
The colleges and universities of Louisiana are trending upward, and that is a good thing for everyone involved.
The students will gain by being better prepared when they enter college, a fact that will make them more likely to succeed at high levels once they are there.
Our colleges will benefit because they will become more competitive among their peer institutions across the nation, meaning they can draw in a better crop of students each year, each of whom will be more likely to remain in school and receive a degree.
Our businesses and government agencies — the places that need tomorrow's nurses, teachers, lawyers, doctors, businesspeople, chefs and other professionals — will benefit from having large numbers of qualified graduates coming out of nearby colleges.
And our communities will benefit from our children being able to remain close to home to pursue their high-quality educations.
There is no doubt that improving excellence at our colleges and universities has broad effects across our region — all of them positive.
There are, however, some changes needed to the ways we have traditionally gone about education.
The most drastic change will be increasing the admissions standards, which will require students to be more prepared when they are applying to and entering college.
Part of those increasing standards will carry with it the elimination of many of the remedial classes that have helped students make the transition to college.
In the long run, this change will work to the benefit of everyone.
In the short term, though, it could be a serious disruption to hundreds of students.
Fortunately, there is a pilot program at Nicholls State University that allows students to take some remedial courses along with their introductory courses, meaning they can attend school, get the remedial help they need and continue on their educational journeys.
The eventual goal is to get all students qualified before they enter college. That is a noble goal, one that should work out well for the students as well as for the colleges.
Bridging the gap from where we are to where we want to be, though, is an essential part of the process.
Nicholls State's pilot program is one that is addressing the present need with an eye toward further improvements in the future.
The News Star, Monroe, Louisiana, on state needing to take care of its roads:
Twelve billion dollars. That's how much the state needs just to catch up on its backlog of highway construction and maintenance projects.
Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, who chaired a recent discussion on highway financing said plainly, " . we have no money."
According to a recent report by Gannett Capital Bureau reporter Mike Hasten, members of the House and Senate Joint Transportation Committee discovered that legislators have approved ways to use the Transportation Trust Fund for purposes other than funding highway building and maintenance.
Funds have been siphoned off to pay for retirement benefits and interest on highway construction bonds. This year, about 10 percent has been used to help balance the state's budget.
Among other things, for example, the Legislature has voted to use $40 million in gasoline taxes for purposes other than road maintenance and construction.
And that $12 billion figure doesn't even take into account new highway projects that are needed in the state, which would bring the backlog to $15 billion.
Small wonder that Louisiana's highways are consistently ranked low in national safety ratings.
The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on state should make it easier for public to know who gave to candidates:
The state of Louisiana is collecting all sorts of data on political candidates and the PACS and corporations that give them bucket loads of money. Ostensibly, that information is for you. But good luck sorting through it and putting the pieces together in a meaningful way. The state should make it easy, but it hasn't.
The Louisiana Ethics Administration website has a voluminous amount of information, including campaign finance reports and PAC lists. You may need a tutorial to figure out which list is the one you want, though, and there is no Kindle Fire HDX help button to conjure up a customer service rep.
There should be a way for the public to easily search all of this information and for multiple contributions linked to a single donor to pop up as a group. The state ought to combine and sort data so that a campaign finance search automatically lets you know that Grigsby Properties and Cajun Contractors are both owned by Lane Grigsby.
There is nothing automatic about figuring that out now, though.
Grigsby ranked No. 3 on a list of Louisiana's top 400 contributors between 2009 and 2012 compiled by NOLA.com
The ethics administration's database and the secretary of state's database are separate. There is no way to cross-reference information electronically on those sites. You can print out an Excel sheet on a candidate's contributions and then go to the secretary of state's site to look up corporations.
That needs to change. Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Legislature should make improving both websites a priority. The sites should be designed with users in mind. This is possible - even for government. The Legislature's website is easy to use. You can find a bill by author, by number, by topic. You can see the amendments and find a cost breakdown. You can even watch legislators debate. There's transparency in action.
Transparency is a word politicians like to throw around. But with campaign donations, Louisiana's political leaders are just pretending to value it.