Thursday, April 21, 2011

Public education coalition stings Pastorek and Jindal

The new education coalition mentioned in EdLog recently has come out swinging, holding its maiden press conference on the steps of the Claiborne Building, home of the Louisiana Department of Education.

As WVLA-TV reporter Kelsey Scram tells it in this article, "A group of school leaders say they've had enough with cuts to education. Now, they're banding together and speaking out."

Representing the Louisiana Federation of Teachers at the press conference was East Baton Rouge Federation President Carnell Washington, who told reporters, "We believe that this governor and this administration have made poor choices...We are coming together to try and stop the train from the direction in which it is going."

Education researcher Charles Hatfield revealed one of the dirty secrets of the Jindal administration's attack on public education, which has included the state takeover of some schools, flat-lining funding for education's Minimum Foundation Program and shifting millions of dollars in state costs onto financially strapped local school boards.

Despite resources poured into schools seized by the state, Hatfield said, "With the few exceptions, which you can count on one hand, most of the schools are really not performing that well. In fact, many of them are atrocious."

Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek responded quickly with a rant in which he characterized the coalition as the "grumbling of those who are unwilling to be inspired" by his failed policies.

Pastorek's screed was trumped by this guest column in the Louisiana Voice blog, penned by Don Whittinghill of the Louisiana School Board's Association.

Whittinghill wrote, in part, "The Superintendent apparently believes that only he, and a small coterie of highly-paid associates, is motivated to 'continue doing the right thing for kids.' His vision of the right thing includes bringing in a host of private companies to manage schools and to provide a varied menu of professional services that have one thing in common: They pull money out of the classroom."

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