On March 4, the same day she celebrated U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s announcement that Louisiana is one of 16 states to advance to the final round in the competition for education funding through the “Race to the Top” program, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu heaped praise on state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek. In its “Inside Politics” column Sunday, The Advocate quoted Landrieu saying Duncan told her privately that Pastorek “is probably one of the best superintendents in the nation.”

That’s high praise for one of the most controversial education supers ever to serve the state.

Like Pastorek, Landrieu has championed Race to the Top since its inception and voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is funding the program. The winners in the first round of competition will be announced in April. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied to compete for $4.35 billion in federal education grants. Louisiana requested $314 million in its application.

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