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Ringling Bros. to end elephant acts

It looks like the end of an era is coming for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  Feld Entertainment, the circus' parent company, has announced they are phasing out their fabled elephant acts by 2018.

Jeff Dorson, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Louisiana, wants to thank Ringling Bros. for finally doing the right thing.
"These animals, taken from the wild, some of them are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, should never have been in use for our entertainment.  This is a difficult life for them."

The 13 elephants currently in the circus' shows will be transferred to their Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.  Many in the public have voiced concerns regarding how elephants and other animals have been treated by the circus.  Dorson says negative reinforcement is often used to train animals.

"There have been documented cases of cruelty, so I'm delighted Ringling Bros. is sensitive to the public's wishes."

Ringling Bros. says they will continue to use horses, dogs, tigers, and other animals in their performances.  Dorson says that's a fight for another day.

"I'm sure we'll, at some point, address the other animals.  But, for today, we'll take it as a major victory." 

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Spring forward sleep tips for kids

Sleep experts have some tips for parents on ways to prepare their children for losing an hour of sleep this weekend as we spring forward. Mother of six, Laura Swartz with Healthy Happy Sleep says plan on  keeping sleep patterns the same after the time has changed. 

"The ways that you can prepare is to wake them up. Its really important to get them back on their normal track as fast as possible. So waking them up about 15 minutes earlier in the days leading up is the best way to go about it." 

Swartz says give yourself permission to relax about this change since parents tend to over think the process. She says starting today wake up your kids 15 minutes earlier than usual. 

"They get up at 7, I would go ahead and wake them up at 6:45, and then the next day wake them up at 6:30 so by the time they get to Sunday morning they are waking up at the new time of 7," 

Swartz says the rhythms of daily life will regulate your childrens new sleep schedule. She says the change will be easy for naturally early risers but most parents will know if they're children are sensitive to changes in their routine. 

"We tend to want to control everything and make sure it doesn't get out of wack. The reality is our families have natural rhythms of our own and so when the time changes we tend to fall back into our old rhythms of when our meal times are and when we have certain activities," 

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BESE to discuss Common Core

Michelle Southern reporting.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will meet today and one of the items on the agenda is the question of what to do about Common Core Opt-Outs. Some families who oppose the education standards have said they won't let their child take the PARCC test. BESE member Jane Smith seeks to delay consequences for schools who have students who opt out.

"What I'd like to do is have BESE clarify this in policy for this year," says Smith. "Those students that are opting out of taking the PARCC assessment would not be a zero towards their school's performance socre."

Smith says students who opt-out of taking the Common Core test won't be punished but it's the school that would get a zero for that student towards its performance score. She says parents not letting their kids take the PARCC test is a variable that punishes the school but that they can't control.

"I'm hoping that we will make the decision to revise our accountability policy," said Smith.

Smith says BESE needs a least a year to figure out a compromise when it comes to Common Core because clearly there issues as students opt-out of the tests because their parents don't think it's appropriate.

"So for the 2015 year only, why don't we pause any kind of punitive measures, not only to the students, but to the school districts and teachers."

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Report: Saints to release Pierre Thomas

Michelle Southern reporting.
Sources say the New Orleans Saints have released running back Pierre Thomas from the team. The 30-year-old will save the Black and Gold $1.7 million dollars against the salary cap. NFL analyst Mike Detillier says it's a heart breaking move, but not really a surprise.

"He's getting up in age and I think with running backs you almost have that philosophy that you'd rather get rid of him a year too early rather than a year too late," said Detillier.

New Orleans needs to continue to move or lay-off some players by March 10th to get below the salary cap. 

Detillier says Thomas, who's spent all of his 8 seasons with the team, gave New Orleans the screen game back like no one since Dalton Hilliard.

He says what the Saints will really miss is his pass protection skills.

"But, you know what? In the NFL it never lasts forever and it rarely ends storybook with one team," said Detillier.

Thomas complied 3,745 yards rushing and 28 touchdowns on 187 carries for New Orleans.

He was a key component in the Saints Super Bowl win. 

Detillier says you could argue Thomas was the best undrafted free agent in the Sean Payton era.

He says the fans love him and he's very active with the community and quick to speak to the media, but this is about winning games.

"But like in every profession you get old," said Detillier. "And I think that Pierre has a lot of life in him but in this day and age it's all much you can produce and how much they're paying you."

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