Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek has been selected to chair Chiefs for Change, a newly formed bipartisan group committed to bold Pre-K – 12 public education reforms. Pastorek was joined by education leaders from four states Tuesday when the initiative was announced in Washington, D.C., during the opening session of the annual national summit of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a reform organization headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
The chiefs collectively committed to continue their pursuit of controversial, yet critical changes with a sense of urgency in both their individual states and on the national policy front. Bush has agreed to provide the group with staffing and financial resources.
“As we seek to improve K-12 public education across our country, never before has so much seemed possible,” Pastorek said in a prepared statement. “At the same time, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The economic viability of our country and the future of our next generation are reliant on the courage and willingness of national, state, and local leaders to move beyond what is politically comfortable and to bring about crucial changes in policy and practice. We must begin by recognizing that the ‘best interest of our students,’ is not simply a rhetorical phrase or tag line to promote the good will of one agency or another. It’s a non-negotiable gauge that requires us to implement with urgency strategies that have proven to increase academic achievement. It’s a commitment that requires us to put children first and adults second. And while we must be thoughtful and continue to collaborate with those who are resistant to change, as state leaders who are pushing for change on the front lines, we appreciate the benefit of pushing together. Chiefs for Change signifies our support for each other and our collective allegiance to advocate for proven, student-centered reforms.”
In addition to Pastorek, members of Chiefs for Change include Eric Smith, Florida Commissioner of Education – Vice Chair; Tony Bennett, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction; Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Gerard Robinson, Virginia Secretary of Education.
Louisiana is nationally recognized for its progressive Pre-K – l2 public education reform initiatives, including its charter school policies, human capital strategies and the state’s Recovery School District, which has been successful at transforming some of the state’s lowest performing schools. The Fordham Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to researching, publishing, and directing projects in elementary and secondary education, recently pegged New Orleans as the most reform-friendly city in the country, crediting the city for “jumping on its unique opportunity to rebuild the city — and its once abysmal schools — from the ground up.”
“It’s an honor to be among these leaders,” Pastorek said. “And it’s a testament to the progress and potential of our state.”
For a copy of the mission and guiding beliefs of Chiefs for Change, click here.
MAY 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.