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.
MAY 20 This post by blogger CB Forgotston draws parallels between Gov. Bobby Jindal and two individuals he probably doesn't want to be aligned with: President Obama and former governor Edwin Edwards. CB says Jindal's trying to jack up the debt ceiling (an Obama play, according to CB) and buy votes from GOP leges who normally wouldn't go for that (an Edwards play, CB says).
MAY 20 Here's a post in the Baptist Message from an alumnus of Louisiana College. The author, Larry Burgess, calls on the leadership of the private school to take care of some pressing problems. Physical plant issues are critical and unaddressed, some faculty make so little they need government health care, and there is an atmosphere that does not encourage honest discussion, he writes. It's time to get things back in order, he says.
MAY 20 This post in Gambit tells of a benefit concert scheduled to raise money for the 19 people shot during a Mother's Day second line on Frenchmen Street in NOLA. Among them was Gambit blogger Deb Cotton, who spoke frequently about violence in the city and reported on the city's second line culture. Gambit's foundation, along with other NOLA non-profits, also is selling t-shirts to raise money for the victims.
MAY 20 Blogger Robert Mann is critical of the personal interest some legislators take in their work here, sharing the comments one NOLA solon made in explaining his decision to vote against a bill that would require people to stop discriminating against female workers. His wife might lose some salary, so he was going to have to vote against the equal pay bill, Conrad Appel said. Appel and everyone who heard him should have been ashamed, but they weren't, and that's what is wrong in that building, Mann argues.
MAY 20 American Press columnist Jim Beam writes about the budget again here, urging kudos for the House and its efforts to try to fix the budget as opposed to passing on a flawed and messy rubber-stamped document as it usually does. The Senate already is poo-pooing the effort, but instead Senators should be trying to find a way to improve it as well, Beam argues. He also has some predictions in here from LABI and CABL.
MAY 20 Here's a link to the photo gallery from Tulane's graduation this past weekend. Dr. John and Allen Toussaint played together and received honorary degrees. The Dalai Lama was so entranced by their performance he got up from his seat and walked across the stage to stand next to them. He even participated in a second line with his own personal, saffron-colored umbrella. To the graduates, he urged them to think about creating a peaceful, hopeful life and society.
MAY 20 This Picayune story questions the rhetoric of NOLA officials who say the city, aside from having a "murder problem," is safe. The talking points generally are that the criminals are killing each other, but everything else is OK. The police chief there says that even Lafayette is more dangerous than NOLA. But crime experts interviewed here say that NOLA's numbers indicate one of two things: either people are so used to violence they don't report it, or somebody's "fudging the numbers."
MAY 20 The Advocate's Mark Ballard writes about some of the background maneuvering that took place during the development of budget alternatives in the Legislature. From Rep. Joel Robideaux being called a "tax and spend liberal" to robo-call influence, Ballard lets us in on some of the work that happens behind the scenes but usually doesn't make it into the Advocate's daily coverage of the session.
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.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
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.