Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Post-convention, post-holiday catch-up

EdLog has been on hiatus during the LFT annual convention and Thanksgiving holiday, but the news didn't' stop. Here's a brief rundown on events of the past two weeks:

Like father, like son: a generation ago, gubernatorial candidate Buddy Roemer campaigned on a pledge to brick up the top three floors of the Department of Education. Now his son, Chas, sits on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and he wants to do the old man one better: overhaul the department from top to bottom, and give the governor more authority over education (is he thinking of running?).

Advocate reporter Will Sentell has the story here.

Deja Vu all over again: The old, pre-Katrina Orleans Parish School Board was notorious for keeping such sloppy pay records that many people wound up collecting much more than they were entitled to. But now that the state Recovery School District has taken control of most of the city's schools...pay records are so sloppy that many people wound up collecting much more than they were entitled to.

Times-Picayune reporter Sarah Carr has the story here

Deja Vu all over again, Part 2: Under the old, corrupt pre-Katrina school board in New Orleans, there was always some scandal or another brewing, often involving the use of public property like vehicles. But now that the state Recovery School District has taken control of most of the city's schools...there's a scandal about State Superintendent Paul Pastorek allowing RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas to illegally use a state vehicle for personal use (and wreck it in Chicago!).

Advocate reporter Jordan Blum has the story here; Times-Picayune reporter Jan Moller covered the story here.

Paul Pastorek's very bad week: As if unmonitored salaries and questionable use of vehicles weren't enough, State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek was at the center of this news article by Associated Press reporter Melinda Deslatte. The rest of the state is reeling from economic setbacks and a "streamlining commission" is recommending furloughs for state workers, but the payroll at the Department of Education has jumped by some $8 million during Pastorek's tenure.

There are fewer workers at the department than before, but they are making much more money. Writes Deslatte, "Pastorek says the pay is needed to attract and keep the best talent. But with huge state budget shortfalls predicted for several years, the salary boosts have irked some lawmakers, already bristling about Pastorek's own hefty pay increases."

Four N.O. charter schools on probation: Four charter schools overseen by the Orleans Parish School Board have been put on probation because of financial issues or problems with student performance, Times Picayune reporter Cindy Chang writes here.

Shockingly, one of the schools on probation is Ben Franklin High School, one of the highest performing schools in the nation. Prior to the wholesale takeover and chartering of schools post-Katrina, Ben Franklin was a shining jewel in the Orleans Parish system.

Randi Weingarten at LFT convention: AFT President Randi Weingarten's speech to the 45th annual convention of the LFT was covered by Times Picayune reporter Barri Bronston for this story.

The meat of her comments was this: "Until teacher evaluations are no longer based primarily on test scores, teachers will continue to get blamed for everything from the high dropout rate to the poor economy..."

Convention recognizes Joe Potts: Reporter Bronston also covered the LFT's recognition of Joe Potts. The former Jefferson Federation president (and current LFT executive vice president) received the Pioneer Award for his trailblazing service to the union. Also mentioned are legislative awards for Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite and Harold Ritchie of Bogalusa.

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