In the days following state Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek’s resignation announcement, media outlets throughout the state have offered high praise for a man who brought unprecedented reform to the state’s struggling system — and never failed to find foes along the way.
Pastorek’s plans to leave the state’s top education post for a private sector attorney job in Washington has brought his achievements and controversial four years to the forefront, with most reports giving high marks to the outgoing state superintendent.
An editorial published on the New Orleans City Business website says Pastorek deserves credit for the “heavy lifting” he’s done since being appointed in 2007, particularly with New Orleans’ Recovery School District and the teacher accountability measures he has touted since the beginning:
We encourage [Gov. Bobby] Jindal to find someone of a mindset similar to Pastorek’s to fill his vacancy, someone who will thwart attempts to sidetrack educational progress in Louisiana. That person may very well be an educator, but their overriding qualification should be a desire to depart from ways of the past.
And we advise state lawmakers to keep their hands out of crafting education policy. It will be quite easy to distinguish political motives from legitimate efforts to heighten classroom performance.
He may have ticked off people in the process, but there was never a doubt that Pastorek’s heart and passion were in the right place.
Teacher unions and local school administrators are intent on halting additional reform efforts that would remove decision-making power from their hands.
Within hours of Pastorek’s announcement Tuesday, Louisiana Association of Educators President Joyce Haynes issued a statement that all but vilified the superintendent.
Jindal has since made public his support for newly appointed head of the Recovery School District John White, an interim Jindal says would keep Pastorek’s reform movement on the same path. The latest Jindal remarks are in stark contrast to his initial Pastorek response, when he said he wants someone who will “build on consensus,” something for which Pastorek is not widely known.
The [Opelousas] Daily World joins New Orleans City Business and several other news outlets in advocating for someone with a mindset similar to Pastorek to fill his shoes:
If Louisiana’s public schools are going to move forward and give every child the opportunity to go as far as talent and hard work will allow, we’ll need a Pastorek replacement with the same determination to make concrete, measurable improvements in public education.
Political or not, Pastorek represents a tough-minded approach to school reform that has fans among conservatives and liberals. The chief tenet is that the nation, the states, school systems and individual schools can no longer afford to fool around, especially when it comes to educating minority kids and those from disadvantaged homes.
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DEC 8 - Maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all. This post on the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association's site says we're looking at oil prices that are tanking because there's so much oil coming out of the Gulf. Some are even predicting a glut. What's likely to be the result? Lower gas prices, higher refinery profits, and more pressure on the feds to loosen export restrictions.
DEC 8 Here's the latest from blogger Robert Mann, and it's on one of his favorite topics: Bobby Jindal. He's taking a look at Jindal's record and his current maneuvering, which of course is a ploy to position him for a run for the White House. "America Next," Jindal's current big idea, is just as vague about what it is proposing as Jindal usually is, Mann says. And it won't protect him from his "unimaginative record," as Mann describes it.
DEC 8 - Don't know what that is? Then run on over to LaPolitics and read this post by Jeremy Alford, which serves as a history lesson about the famed tonic and it's purveyor, Dudley LeBlanc. It's really a fascinating story and Alford's description of Dudley as an "icon of Louisiana politics and culture" is not an exaggeration.
DEC 8 In this editorial, the Picayune again urges Gov. Jindal to take the Medicaid money. But the piece's exhortation that Jindal "be sensible" is a little misplaced, isn't it? Because Jindal's not being stupid -- well, maybe he is -- but he's following orders from people he believes can get him into the White House. This editorial is engaging in the argument that Jindal is publicly making, without acknowledging what his true motivations are. Somebody send these guys a clue.
DEC 8 Columnist Mark Ballard is writing about the impact of Vance McAllister's defeat of Neil Riser in this post. He starts out talking about how McAllister's more reasonable approach was more attractive to voters than was Riser's hard-line (tea-party-ish) rants. Dan Claitor, a state lege from BR who is expected to run for Congress soon, expressed it best when he said voters aren't looking for candidates who are "throwing temper tantrums when they can't get their way."
DEC 8 It's always gratifying when a Louisiana son makes international headlines. And our son, David "former KKK grand poobah" Duke is back in the news, making us all proud. This (UK) Telegraph story, unearthed by the Dead Pelican, tells us that Duke has been expelled from Italy but is trying to return. The Italians say he is trying to "establish a pan-European, extremist neo-Nazi group in northern Italy." Huh. You don't say.
DEC 9 This is a kind of puzzling post from columnist Jim Beam, in which he discusses a recent appearance by former Gov. Edwin Edwards in Lake Charles. He said he's surprised by EWE's "grasp of current events." Did Jim never meet Slick Eddie? He's no dummy, and for Beam to assume he is -- well, given he covered the man for 50 years, that's the surprise.
DEC 9 A "suspicious package" shut down part of Zachary Sunday, WAFB tells us in this post. The package, which eventually was "rendered safe" (bomb squad lingo for blown up) was found in a storage unit that someone quit paying on. Other cop gear was found in the unit, so it is possible the thing was a training tool, police say. But they leave out the best part: who bought it? Barry, Jarrod or Darrell?
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