Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pastorek Resigns

State Superintendent Paul Pastorek announced his resignation Tuesday, May 10. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate story, his abrupt departure may have been related to deteriorating relations with the education community which includes practically all of the major stakeholders in Louisiana public education.

Here is the big concern of the new Coalition for Louisiana Public Schools: There seems to be an effort by the Governor and others to replace Pastorek with another non-educator who would be committed to further privatization of the Louisiana Public Education system.

There was talk yesterday that the Governor wanted to encourage BESE to appoint John White, who was just recently hired as Superintendent for the Louisiana Recovery District. According to this news story, this person has no training as a professional educator. His entry into education was as a two year Teach for America recruit. From there he quickly moved to coordination of the Teach for America program in the Chicago public schools and later was appointed as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City school system, the largest school system in the U.S.

His primary job with the New York City system was to close down low performing schools and to convert as many schools as possible into charter schools. He was also working on a system to evaluate teachers using student test scores. His most recent boss, the Chancellor of the New York system resigned after only three months on the job because she also was a non-educator and was overwhelmed by the complexity of the job. He was then snatched up by Pastorek to be the Superintendent of the LA Recovery District at what some consider to be a very generous salary for a person with no credentials.

No one knows how successful Pastorek and Jindal have been in lobbying BESE for the appointment of White. By now they may be moving on to some other outside person who wants to privatize schools and who has no knowledge of the Louisiana public education system. That's the key: The reformers don't want anyone who has a real background in running public schools. They want someone who believes as they do that public schools are inherently rotten to the core. They believe the only solution is for free enterprise, privatization, school competition and choice to transform schools. The only problem is, if you look at the Feb 19 post on this blog, none of that stuff is working.

If you believe that real reform of public education in Louisiana can only be accomplished by someone who is well grounded in Louisiana education, someone who has the credentials of at least a local superintendent, maybe even someone who has taught in a real classroom, then you need to contact your BESE member now and ask that a real Louisiana educator be appointed. Please insist that the person have extensive Louisiana experience and at least the credentials of a local superintendent. Credentials equal to a local superintendent is required by legislation passed only last year, partly because of Pastorek's lack of credentials. The only problem is the law allows a waiver of these requirements by a two thirds vote of BESE. So please send an email or call your BESE member (click here for a BESE directory) now to insist that they follow the intent of the law.

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