Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

Recent editorials from Louisiana newspapers:

May 16

The Times Picayune, New Orleans, on requiring Louisiana's student athletes to maintain a C average:

Requiring Louisiana's student athletes to maintain a C average in order to play would be a more demanding standard than the D average they had to maintain in the past.

But it's surely in the best interest of young Louisianians to set the bar for academic success moderately higher. That's what the Louisiana High School Athletic Association did last year when it adopted a new scholastic rule that set a C average for participation. The previous scholastic rule that called for a D average was adopted in 1984.

House Bill 31, by Rep. Rickey Hardy of Lafayette, seeks to make high schools that participate in interscholastic athletics adhere to that standard. Under the legislation, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would adopt a policy requiring all high schools under LHSAA's jurisdiction to require students to maintain a 2.0 grade-point average on a 4-point scale in order to participate in athletics.

The original bill also sought to make the same requirement for middle schools and junior highs, but the House Education Committee amended the bill to remove the requirement for younger students. That's unfortunate, however, since it's also important for students in grades six through eight to succeed academically.

Hardy first tried to raise academic standards for student athletes two years ago, but his efforts were not successful, with many lawmakers saying that the change would harm struggling students and restrict access to sports. But the House Education Committee voted for this bill without raising those issues, and that's an encouraging change in attitude.

Athletics are a valuable program that can keep students healthy, fit and, in some cases, motivated to stay in school. But academics must come first, and students with a 1.5 grade-point average are clearly not doing as well in their scholastic work as they need to in order to learn and be successful after they graduate.

While individual schools and school systems were free to set higher standards than the 1.5 grade-point average, Hardy has been pushing for higher standards across the board, and that's the direction Louisiana should be taking.

A state that has made strides in reforming public education through its accountability program shouldn't have lower expectations for student athletes.



May 17

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La., on preventing crime with education:

We don't always agree with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, but one of his applause lines during his recent visit to Baton Rouge is wisdom of the first order: "We're opening jails," he said, "and we're closing schools."

There is a perfect cause-and-effect relationship in that argument. In today's society, the days when a strong back could ensure a decent job are going fast into the sunset. Instead, an education - even beyond high school - is almost a necessity to getting a decent job and earning a decent quality of life.

Too much crime, and too little education.

As District Attorney Hillar Moore III, whose jurisdiction covers East Baton Rouge Parish, says frequently, the problem starts at an early age.

Truancy from school doesn't usually seem to be high on a district attorney's concerns, but Moore said it is. "The simple fact is ... that truancy leads to lack of education, which leads to delinquency, which leads to criminal behavior and a life of crime."

"Truancy is an issue for all of us," Moore told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.

Moore said "virtually none" of the violent criminals prosecuted daily in Baton Rouge completed their education. Most have little in the way of family support, and they also have drug and alcohol issues as well as mental health problems.

"We know that we are blessed with a growing community and growing economy, but should we be worried that a day may come when our two most significant issues - crime and education - become a brake on future growth?" Moore asked.

He is right, and we applaud him and other officials pushing the idea of a one-stop truancy center.

As the district attorney, he sees the consequences if there is not an all-out effort in schools and law enforcement to keep children in the classroom and preparing for something better than residency in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.



May 13

The Daily Star, Hammond, La., on misguided flood control:

Can Louisiana seize opportunity?

The Mississippi River is moving an estimated 1.9 million cubic feet of water and sediments through Louisiana's eroding coastal areas and out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway is pouring freshwater and sediment into Lake Pontchartrain on the east side of the Mississippi River instead of into the marshlands on the west side where it could combat erosion.

Robert Twilley, science adviser to America's Wetland Foundation, truly points out that Louisiana is missing a great opportunity to combine flood control with restoration efforts.

"We throw away our dredge spoils and we allow critical barrier islands and ridges to disappear. Because of the critical nature of the threat facing South Louisiana, we must be guided by science to guide decisions," said R. King Milling, the foundation chair. ...

Public safety, of course, has to be government's top concern at this time. In the big picture, however, strategic plans should be in place to seize the opportunities to harness the river's natural restorative powers and redirect the river's nourishing minerals into the marshes and coastal areas.

This is not just a Louisiana issue.

Louisiana contributes about a third of the nation's seafood and serves as the nursery grounds for some 90 percent of all marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. Our wetlands provide a major habitat for wildlife and millions of migratory waterfowl and other birds. This state contributes about 30 percent of the nation's energy supply.

Louisiana is running out of time to rebuild our coastal areas and wetlands. The crisis needs the nation's immediate attention and help because the shared losses will be immeasurable.