State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek made a case for education reform during a presentation on the South Louisiana Community College campus Tuesday. Sponsored by the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and the Black Chamber of Commerce, Pastorek’s Power Point presentation was big on bold ideas for transforming public schools, and thin on specifics. "I want Louisiana to have a vision of public education - that we want all our schools to be world class," he said to roughly 40 business, civic and education leaders.
Pastorek said modest improvements in achievement, say, 5 percent annually, are not good enough. "I think we need to pursue a big idea. And if we decide to pursue other big ideas, it means that the world as we know it in public education has to dramatically change."
The superintendent praised so-called "new tech high schools," which are technology- and vocation-driven and focus on collaborations with outside industry. In fact, Pastorek said, given his druthers, he would do away with the "comprehensive" model for high schools that has been the standard for decades. He also praised Lafayette Parish’s adoption of the academy model for high schools. "Some people say we shouldn’t be preparing kids for a marketplace," he said. "Well, I absolutely disagree. The world as we know it is a marketplace, and if we’re going to survive we better be prepared for it. When we prepare students to just get a high school diploma, we are preparing them for failure in life."
Pastorek also held up the Recovery School District established in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina as a model for innovative ideas and provided a graph showing dramatic increases in achievement by RSD students, who are primarily poor and minority, compared to the state average. He referred to the RSD approach as "seed, feed and weed," arguing that "you seed new schools, you feed the ones that are there, and you weed out the ones that aren’t working." The lawyer by training also said he supports charter schools as long as they show results.
While the school chief’s pitch was short on specifics about how the state can achieve reform, he did return several times to a theme that has generated perhaps the most press coverage and the most opposition: taking local school boards out of the political equation to empower district superintendents and give principals CEO-like control over their individual schools. Pastorek’s plan includes imposing term limits on board members, replacing their salaries with modest per diems, and requiring them to have high school diplomas.
In support of this controversial component, Pastorek offered as evidence anecdotes about school boards meddling in the business of superintendents and getting bogged down in affairs he believes are outside their scope. "Board members need to be working on board policy. Superintendents need to be working on running the district. And the two should not be crossing over. That’s my main argument."
Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.
An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.
New York Times poll shows Obama, Jindal have identical approval and disapproval ratings in the state.
See which events are taking place during INNOV8 Lafayette this Friday, April 25.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Lisa Boudreaux come and get your goodies.
OK, so they’re bentgrass, the type used on golf course greens. But grass is grass.
Jefferson Street restaurant and pub debuts during Festival with limited menu.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill Wednesday, despite opponents who argued it would shut down the storefront lenders.
A measure to allow the state to implement its own, less stringent plan for limiting carbon dioxide emissions unanimously passed the Senate.
FDA to regulate e-cigarettes, Jodie Foster gets married, Vermont to require labels on genetically-modified food, and more news for today, April 24, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
See which events are taking place during INNOV8 Lafayette this Thursday.
It’s on, y’all. Fest fIND, our annual Festival International de Louisiana reader contest, is now accepting photo submissions.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
Fashion and music make great bedfellows
Producers, manufacturers, restaurants and chefs host roundtable and tasting
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
The easy one-piece way to style
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Don't forget: our annual Festival International contest begins Thursday! Win. Cool. Stuff.
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.