December 8, 2023 8:00am

Trump conviction, Biden renomination both seen as likely; Jefferson Parish needs fountain of youth

Thought leaders oppose appeals of Louisiana high school graduation test results

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
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The sudden uproar over graduation requirements in Louisiana public high schools boils down to this: If we deny an appeals process for seniors whose test scores are too low to merit a diploma, are we dooming the smart ones who just don’t test well? Or, in allowing appeals, do we render the Louisiana diploma meaningless?

Most New Orleans Power Poll members oppose appeals and say students should test again if they fail the first time and still want to graduate. Their position echoes Ronnie Morris, a Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member who said sardonically: “Now we have the world’s first emergency high school diploma giveaway program, and it’s in Louisiana.”

The minority view comes from Betsy Threefoot Kaston, former board president of Jewish Family Services of Greater New Orleans.

“Not all students, even bright ones, are good test takers,” she said. “High-stakes tests are valuable, but they are not reflective of the ability of all students. Students should have a method to substitute other forms of academic evaluations. Students should be able to appeal the test scores, if they have a valid reason.”

The appeals issue has divided top politicians and policy makers. BESE in June split 6-5 in approving appeals, which are favored by Gov. John Bel Edwards and BESE President Holly Boffy. Opposed are Attorney General Jeff Landry, who succeeds Edwards in January, the House Education Committee and Education Superintendent Cade Brumley.

Kid stuff

On a separate matter, Jefferson Parish, the second most populous in the state and once the poster parish for post-World War II suburban growth, is facing a demographic crisis: A dearth of young people with no signs of change. That carries profound implications for health care, education, economics, land use, recreation, housing and other facets of society.

Power Poll members get it. More than two thirds of respondents deemed it very important to attract more young people.

Biden v. Trump

In presidential politics, the two over-arching questions are whether Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, will be convicted of a crime before the election and whether incumbent Joe Biden, now 81, is too old for the Democrats to nominate him again.

Trump is charged in four criminal cases, and about half of Power Poll respondents see him being convicted before Nov. 5. Almost three quarters think Democrats will stick with Biden.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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