Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pastorek dares to differ with Jindal on school cuts

This is big news. Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, who has marched lockstep with Gov. Bobby Jindal thus far, now dares to differ with his patron on the threat that Jindal's budget cuts pose to public education.

While the governor's mantra has been along the we-can-do-more-with-less line, Pastorek has gone public with the damage the governor's budget is doing to our kids.

After providing the Senate Finance Committee a list of the state's educational improvements, Pastorek ventured into territory the governor may consider treasonous, as reported by Will Sentell for this article in The Advocate.

"I’m telling you I am very concerned about where we are,” Pastorek told the committee. “When I tell you there aren’t many programs left in the Department of Education I mean it.”

Pastorek's report to the Senate Finance Committee laid bare the governor's disingenuous claims that K-12 education has not been cut over the past three years. Pastorek's department has been cut by $6.3 million, and has lost some 65 employees.

Future cuts, Pastorek told senators, would make it difficult, if not impossible, to implement the changes that the legislature has mandated.

Among funding cuts that have a direct, negative impact on the learning of children are these:
  • Teacher stipends for national certification went from $5.5 million to zero.
  • The budget for classroom technology went from $30 million to zero.
  • Public school awards went from $4.6 million to zero.
  • The K-3 reading and math initiative went from $6.7 million to zero.
  • The student remediation budget went from $18.9 million to zero.
“That is a very serious problem,” Pastorek told the committee. “That is a lot of kids counting on adults to get them to grade level.”

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