May 12, 2011 04:19
His 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. 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.

We couldn't agree more.

Read more on Pastorek here and here.

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