Monday, August 10, 2009

Can't we all just get along?

The call by some organizations for State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek to be relieved of his post is a distraction from important issues facing public education.

As reported by Barbara Leader of the Monroe News-Star on Friday, the Louisiana School Boards Association has joined the call for Pastorek's scalp. That newspaper responded with an editorial calling for peace in the education community.

Pastorek has the support of his Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the governor. He's going nowhere.

Our concentration should be on the issues, policies, decisions and choices made by Pastorek, Governor Jindal and the BESE board. If we disagree with those, we should take every opportunity to explain why they are wrong for our schools and our children. And we should remind voters of those at the next election.

But personalizing the dispute can bring discussion of issues to a halt, and that's what has happened in Louisiana. Which is why LFT President Steve Monaghan has called on Governor Jindal to intercede, saying that the controversy is "counterproductive and dangerous for public education." (Click here to read the full letter to Jindal.)

The governor, Monaghan said, is the only person with sufficient stature to bring the opposing parties together in a summit aimed at establishing a civil discussion of important issues.

“Such a meeting would obviously not resolve all differences,” Monaghan wrote. “But it would help to create a framework for discussion of those differences.

“There is a grave danger that the current situation could threaten the progress our schools and our children have made. This could make it even more difficult to cooperate in the future,” Monaghan’s letter concludes. “We hope that you will lend your skills and your leadership to this situation.”

Gannett reporter Mike Hasten covered the issue in this News-Star article; Melinda Deslatte from the Associated Press wrote this story about it.

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