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."
New menu items ready for the Lenten season
The Cane Fire Film Series screens “MaidenTrip” on Monday, March 10, at the AcA.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The vibe of the tribe done modern
The Louisiana Workforce Commission said Friday that initial claims rose to 2,125 from the previous week's total of 1,964. There were 2,887 initial claims during the comparable week in 2013.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has stalled action on a $3.5 billion annual school funding formula due to state lawmakers by March 15.
The New Orleans Saints have yet to make it official as of this writing, but popular wide receiver Lance Moore has reportedly been cut by the team to free up salary-cap space on the roster.
While two medical marijuana bills are slated for the upcoming legislative session, what some Louisianans might not know is that the plant was approved for therapeutic use by state lawmakers in 1991.
The agenda is shaping up to be lighter than in previous years. But Jindal is term-limited, with fewer than two years remaining in office, and he saw his last big initiative — a proposed rewrite of Louisiana tax law — collapse without getting a vote in 2013.
Sharper has been held without bail because of an arrest warrant issued by Louisiana authorities accusing him and another man of raping two women.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday, March 07, 2014:
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.