As conservatives take power in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s flagship university is quickly backpedaling on its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Louisiana State University recently scrubbed references to diversity from its website, while LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication removed a video series on structural racism (co-sponsored by LBP). Manship Dean Kimberly Bissel told LSU Reveille’s Claire Sullivan that the removal of the series, “Racism: Dismantling the System,” was due to a website redesign and said it will “absolutely” return online. 

The removal of the series came around the time LSU removed its diversity statement and other diversity language from its website. News of the series being taken down broke Friday, the same day LSU President William F. Tate IV announced “inclusion” would be replaced with “engagement” in what is now the Division of Engagement, Civil Rights and Title IX.

The racism series is archived on the video section of LBP’s Facebook page

Landry nixes graduation appeal plan
Gov. Jeff Landry has shelved a policy that provided a pathway to high school graduation for Louisiana students who fail to meet minimum benchmarks on standardized tests. Republicans on the House Education Committee recently voted down the plan at the urging of top GOP leaders. But former Gov. John Bel Edwards disagreed and approved the policy, which had support from the state’s top school board, teachers unions and other advocacy groups. The Advocate’s Meghan Friedmann reports:

The policy provided an alternative path toward earning a diploma that could be especially important for students with learning challenges and for non-native English speakers, advocates said. … [former BESE president Holly] Boffy, a principal at W.D. Mary & Baker Smith Career Center in Lafayette, pointed to one of her students, a teen who had passed multiple professional exams and had over 400 hours of industry experience, but had failed the LEAP biology test normally required to graduate. Because of a COVID-era exemption, that student still got her diploma, Boffy said. But such exemptions have expired.

Only eight states require passing a standardized test to graduate. Of these, Louisiana is the only one without an appeals process. Students in private schools are not subjected to the requirement. 

Family doctors and rural America’s maternal health crisis
Rural maternity care deserts are prevalent across the country because of a lack of obstetricians. Nearly one-third of women in Louisiana live in a parish that lacks a single medical professional trained in childbirth and the care of women giving birth. But as KFF Health News’ Sarah Jane Tribble explains, family doctors, with the help of federal support, are trying to solve this preventable health crisis for new mothers and babies in rural America. 

Family medicine physicians still provide the majority of labor and delivery care in rural America, but few new doctors recruited to less populated areas offer obstetrics care, partly because they don’t want to be on call 24/7. Now, with rural America hemorrhaging health care providers, the federal government is investing dollars and attention to increase the ranks. “Obviously the crisis is here,” said Hana Hinkle, executive director of the Rural Training Track Collaborative, which works with more than 70 rural residency training programs. 

Louisiana receiving billions from infrastructure and climate laws
Louisiana has been awarded $10.2 billion from two laws President Joe Biden championed. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act have steered much-needed funding to help the state transition away from fossil fuels, protect against climate change and repair its aging infrastructure. The Times-Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate’s Sam Karlin explains how those dollars are being used. 

The biggest category of projects is roads and bridges, which is set to get a windfall of $3.8 billion. Already receiving funding are projects to replace the Calcasieu River Bridge and help cities improve surface streets, among other things. The money will also be used on other types of infrastructure. For instance, More than $1.3 billion is slated for projects aimed at making the state more resilient in the face of stronger hurricanes and other effects of a changing climate. … Another $1.6 billion will go to building out clean energy and bolstering the power grid by making homes more energy efficient and deploying stronger utility poles. 

Number of the Day
$1,682 – Amount of funding Louisiana has received per person from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Louisiana is receiving more funding than neighboring states. (Source: Times Picayune | Baton Rouge Advocate).