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October 14, 2018 - 12:00 am


Louisiana considers special recognition for STEM work

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana students who complete specified courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics may soon be able to earn special endorsements on their high school diplomas.

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members are scheduled soon to consider the new diploma endorsements for completion of what are popularly known as STEM courses.

State education superintendent John White says the endorsements — represented by a gold or silver seal on diplomas — will be an incentive to engage in STEM course work.

A Department of Education news release says silver seals will go to those who complete a subset of specified STEM courses. A gold seal will go to those who complete all of the courses.

A BESE committee looks at the proposal Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's full board meeting.


No arrest, but prosecutor looking at gunfire by ex-officer

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A district attorney in Louisiana is examining the case of a Baton Rouge police officer who was fired after shooting at a motorist.

Police said they found no probable cause to arrest former officer Yuseff Hamadeh, who was with the department for two years. District Attorney Hillar Moore said Friday he will examine the case and determine whether it should go to a grand jury.

The Advocate reports that Hamadeh was fired Thursday after an investigation into the Aug. 7 shooting during a traffic stop.

Hamadeh initially reported that he shot at 21-year-old Raheem Howard because Howard first fired at him. Officials later said no evidence supported the officer's claims.

Moore dropped the case against Howard, who was initially jailed on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer.


Audit: Louisiana agencies fall short on tax break reporting

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A new audit says Louisiana state agencies aren't filing all the paperwork required to track more than $1 billion in tax break programs.

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office looked at whether departments followed reporting requirements enacted by state lawmakers.

The auditors found that 32 percent of the 78 tax incentive reports that agencies must submit to lawmakers by March 1 didn't meet the law's reporting requirements.

Auditors say those reports involved tax break programs costing $127 million in the 2017 budget year and didn't have information about whether Louisiana received a return on its investment.

Another 10 percent of reports weren't turned in at all.

Still, agencies improved their reporting from a 2016 audit, which found 58 percent of reports due to lawmakers either weren't submitted or didn't meet requirements.


20-year anniversary for Louisiana's community college system

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana Community and Technical College System is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of its creation.

Voters in October 1998 approved a constitutional amendment forming the statewide network of community and technical colleges, a proposal pushed by then-Gov. Mike Foster.

The system was aimed at bolstering educational opportunities and increasing workforce training capacity. It has grown to 12 open-access, two-year colleges around Louisiana.

The Louisiana Community and Technical College System says it has awarded more than 327,000 credentials to students since its creation.

The system recently commemorated the 20-year benchmark at its annual conference in New Orleans.


Honors for 3 jazz performers, 2 grew up in Sweden

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Two New Orleans jazz performers who grew up in Sweden and one who grew up in New Orleans are being honored by the Preservation Hall Foundation.

The foundation plans to induct clarinetist Orange Kellin, multi-instrumentalist Lars Edegran and trombone player Lester Caliste as master practitioners on Wednesday.

That's an award for musicians who are at least 70 years old and have made outstanding contributions to the New Orleans jazz community. The award comes with a monthly stipend and benefits that include lawn maintenance and French Quarter parking for performances.

The ceremony originally was scheduled for Sept. 5, but was postponed because of Tropical Storm Gordon.


Icelandic sculptor to guide visitors through outdoor exhibit

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A sculptor from Iceland will be at a Louisiana college in the upcoming week to guide visitors through her outdoor sculpture series called Borders.

Eleven pairs of life-sized androgynous human figures were installed around Centenary College in Shreveport in early October.

The figures are naked, earless, and have their eyes closed. Each pair includes one figure of cast iron and one of cast aluminum.

Sculptor Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir (STAY-nin THOHR-ihr-inz-DAH-tihr) will be at Centenary on Friday, Oct. 19, and the 5 p.m. artist's walk is free.

In a video on her website, Thorarinsdottir says, "These figures form a border where the viewer can cross."

They were in Baton Rouge until July. During their removal, one was missing. Police said it was found in a parking lot after someone called Crimestoppers.


Tuition program seeks teachers wanting STEM certification

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana teachers can get state grants to cover tuition at regionally accredited colleges and universities.

The Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education said in a news release Friday that the program is competitive, with at least 21 seats available. They say top priority will go to applicants working toward certification to teach science, technology, engineering or math. Louisiana has a shortage of such teachers.

The department says the latest educator workforce report shows that 12 percent of all math courses and 13 percent of all science courses statewide are taught by people who aren't certified in those areas.

It says all teachers are encouraged to apply, particularly those who teach in rural or low-performing school systems or are seeking a higher degree.


2 states up boll weevil traps after 2 found in Mississippi

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Louisiana and Arkansas have stepped up boll weevil trapping because two of the destructive, long-snounted beetles were found in northern Mississippi.

The head of Mississippi's boll weevil eradication program says he thinks the two males probably hitched a ride on a vehicle, though nobody knows for sure how they arrived in Batesville. Farrell Boyd says intensive trapping within a mile of the spot where they were found in a trap on Sept. 29 hasn't turned up any more weevils.

Boll weevils did more than $23 billion in damage to U.S. cotton but are now eradicated from all cotton-producing states except part of southern Texas .

Arkansas has increased trapping at entry points from Texas and Mississippi. Louisiana has boosted trapping along Interstate 20 in eastern Louisiana.

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