Just a few weeks ago, the idea that we’d all stop our lives on the same day and be self-imprisoned in our homes might have seemed like the implausible plot of a dystopian series you’d see on Netflix.

But since it really happened, it provided us with an un-imagined opportunity. Self-reflection. Now that things are starting back up, do you want to jump back into the exact same life you were living? Or could you use your period of suspended animation to reassess, and make some changes?

State Soul Searching with Dr Stephen Barnes

State Soul Searching with Dr Stephen Barnes

These are questions Dr Stephen Barnes is asking. Except he’s asking them about the State of Louisiana.

Dr. Barnes is Director of The Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Public Policy Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. And he’s a member of a select group of economists and advisers on the Louisiana Revenue Estimating Conference – a government panel that determines income projections that create the state budget.


If you’re in college or you have kids in school, over the past couple of months you’ve learned a new word. And a new skill. The word is, “Zoom.” And the skill is, “Distance Learning.”

Up until sometime in March 2020, if you wanted to get an education you had to get out of your house and go to a classroom. Now you just have to go to your computer – or even your phone – and click on “Join Zoom Meeting.” And there you are, with the same teacher, the same lesson, even the same kids in your class. And it’s all going on in the comfort of your own home. Why would you ever go back to a classroom again?

Loyola University New Orleans President, Tania Tetlow

LOyola University New Orleans President, Tania Tetlow – presiding over what might be a “reverse GI Bill”

Out to Lunch puts that question to someone whose life is intimately bound up with its answer: Tania Tetlow, President of Loyola University in New Orleans.

In this conversation, Tania lays out the possibilities for the post-pandemic future of higher education in stark and sometimes alarming detail. Dr Tetlow’s fear is that we are about to embark on an era that she describes as “The GI Bill in reverse,” in which a whole generation of kids suddenly does not go to college.

Photos by Jill Lafleur. Further examination of the Louisiana economy is here