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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AUG 27 Columnist Stephanie Grace is writing about those bosom buddies (not), Bobby Jindal and David Vitter, in this post. On the one hand, the two politicians have so much in common, it's hard to tell them apart, she says. But Vitter has taken pains to distance himself from the governor, she says.
AUG 27 This post by blogger Katie East on DIG Baton Rouge is (unfortunately) an accurate reflection of many Americans' experience with our health care system. She has to be impatient, to be "bitchy," to fight to get her physicians to take her seriously. We have the most expensive health care in the world, and East has to use Wikipedia (and her mom) to get a CAT scan? Really?
AUG 27 State retirees who get their health coverage through the state can look forward to paying more for premiums, drugs and out of pocket costs, blogger Tom Aswell tells us in this post. The problem is that Bobby Jindal's plan to privatize the system has resulted in a monthly $16 million deficit, Aswell says, so Bobby's trying to price retirees out of the system.
AUG 27 This post on The Lens takes a look at the so-called "stand your ground" laws that are common across the United States, including in Louisiana. But even though they exist in most states, the enforcement of these laws hasn't been consistent, the story reports.
AUG 27 Blogger CB Forgotston is bumping up against shrill in this post, when he's talking about the taxpayer-funded house where State Police Commander Mike Edmonson lives on your dime. For instance, CB's complaining about the "servants," but the story he links to here reports that a convict cleans the house. CB also calls it a "mansion" but it sure looks more like a standard brick suburban house.
AUG 27 This story on WWL is about some college students who have created a nail polish that can detect date rape drugs. That's really cool, but the real story is in the comments from female college students who say that date rape is routine in college. Hello? Not OK. Can we do something about that, please?
AUG 27 Columnist Rolfe McCollister pays tribute to Robin Williams in this post on Baton Rouge Business Report. In particular, he's reminding us of some of the actor's best lines from Dead Poets Society, one of Williams' most beloved roles.
AUG 27 The woman's right to vote is celebrated this week, but in Louisiana, Women's Equality Day has a different relevance, this post on NOLA Defender tells us. Even though more than 60 percent of the women in this state are the sole bread winner for their household, we still can't do right by them.
AUG 26 Here's blogger Ian McGibboney's take on the great NFL-Slap Ya Mama controversy of 2014. Ian's explanation of the expression is a lot better (and more accurate) than the PR nonsense that has come out, and he also raises a pretty good question: can Boudreaux's Butt Paste be far behind? (Wups! No pun intended...)
AUG 26 Sen. Elbert Guillory's bill aimed at preventing "armed and incapacitated geezers" from working as Justices of the Peace was a huge joke, columnist James Gill writes in this post. Nobody knows who really called Guillory asking for it, nor who sent him the text for it, but they certainly got a lot of mileage out of one phone call, Gill says.
AUG 26 This post on the NOLA Defender blog takes a look at the recent decision by the NFL to cancel the advertising it previously accepted from the "Slap Ya Mama" seasoning. In light of recent events in which the NFL's ability to take domestic violence seriously was questioned, the league felt it wasn't a good idea, the post reports. The best part of this (kinda ridiculous) story, however, is the explanation the PR people give for the expression.
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