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Louisiana superintendent of schools stepping down Friday

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Written by
Mike Hasten
mhasten@gannett.com

 

 

BATON ROUGE — Paul Pastorek’s at times heated but often effective term in office as Louisiana’s superintendent of schools comes to an end Friday.

Pastorek, who was appointed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education four years ago with the support of former Gov. Kathleen Blanco and renewed three years ago, tearfully announced his resignation Tuesday afternoon. He kept his departure secret until rumors of his plans began leaking out Tuesday morning.

“It’s been a good four years,” said Pastorek, who starts his new job as an attorney in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “It’s time for me to go.”

Pastorek’s term in office, which began following the death of former Superintendent Cecil Picard and in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, has itself been stormy. Teacher groups objected that BESE chose an attorney, instead of an educator, to head the state school system. Some legislators complained that he was arrogant.

Pastorek says he was simply driven to accomplish his mission of “creating a world-class education system” and “we’ve made progress.” He ticked off a list of improvements that includes a higher graduation rate, increased scores on national assessments, improved schools and better teachers in classrooms.

He’s quick to point out that it was not a total success.

“I’ve done my work through this point,” he said, but he’s still concerned about the 230,000 students who are still performing below grade level. With a new superintendent, “the decibel levels on the issue of those 230,000 kids should not be reduced.”

He served eight years as a BESE member before leaving to become general counsel for NASA, working under its director, Sean O’Keefe. His new job will be again working with O’Keefe as attorney for EADS North America, an aerospace firm.

Asked earlier in the day about Pastorek, Gov. Bobby Jindal said “We won’t be surprised if there is a vacancy.”

After Pastorek’s announcement, the governor said in a news release “Paul has been a bold reformer who has never wavered in his support for doing what’s best for Louisiana’s kids. Because of Paul’s passion and vision for improving education in Louisiana, we’ve made historic gains in academic achievement, increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate.”

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Written by demon53

May 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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