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Friday, August 17, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Austin J. Badon, Jr.
State Rep. (D), Chairman of the House Education Committee

Louisiana State Representative Austin Badon Jr. is a native son of New Orleans, LA. Before he began to serve the people of the great State of Louisiana as a member of the House of Representatives in 2004, he earned his high school degree from the internationally known St. Augustine High School; he then went on to earn an under-graduate degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of New Orleans. Later, he went back to school to earn a Master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Troy State University. Representative Badon began to delve into the word of politics while attending college. During his under-graduate work, Austin worked as an intern for the New Orleans City Council. Upon completion of the class, he missed working there so much that he volunteered until he found his first REAL job. After job stints in Atlanta and Houston, he came home to the City and State that he loves. After his election in 2004, he has authored and co-authored major reform efforts in New Orleans as well as in the State. His most notable measures have included the consolidation of the seven Orleans assessor office’s into one, the change in qualifications of those serving on levee boards, the implementation of the Recovery School district in Orleans Parish schools, a ban on smoking in Louisiana’s restaurants, testing of inmates for HIV and Hepatitis, the proposed ban on text messaging and cell phone use while driving, the implementation of a scholarship program in New Orleans public schools and many other quality of life instruments. He prides himself on never missing a day of work in any Special or Regular session. As one of the most highly respected members of either legislative chamber, he has served as a Floor leader for both Governor Kathleen Blanco and Governor Bobby Jindal. In 2008, Representative Badon has earned the appointed of Chairman of the House Education Committee.

His motto is “Don’t wait for your ship to come in, swim out to it.” Representative Badon has been recognized for his accomplishments by the Loyola University Black Law Student association, by the Alliance for Good Government as the 2007 Legislator of the Year and by numerous civic and social organizations. Representative Badon was re-elected in 2007 with an overwhelming mandate from his constituents because of his professionalism, accessibility, tenacity and caring manner. Just like so many other people in the New Orleans area, Representative Badon had to overcome tremendous obstacles while rebuilding his flood damaged home. But he believes that God has placed him in this position to help others. He is married to Therese Badon and they have one dependent, a toy poodle who thinks he is a Rottweiller named Romeo. He is a gourmet chef, expert angler and kayaker and he loves the outdoors.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

What challenges do our returning veterans face?

Coming Soon!


     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

Are the criminal justice reforms working as intended?

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