State superintendent of education Paul Pastorek says the work of the Recovery School District could help Louisiana get a share of $5 billion in federal stimulus money for “aggressive mechanisms to deal with low-achieving schools.” Pastorek says the money will be doled out in two rounds, with eight to 15 states getting money in each round.
Pastorek, speaking today at the Baton Rouge Press Club, says there is enough public demand for 200 to 300 charter schools in Louisiana. The Legislature has capped the number of charter schools in the state at 70, but President Barack Obama has called for the removal of such caps, Pastorek says, adding it will be difficult to pass some of the school board reforms he supports, including term limits, limiting board pay, tougher nepotism rules and curbing the power of boards to micromanage districts, but nonetheless says there’s a “good chance some of these bills could pass this year.” Pastorek says he is attempting to reach out to school board members to promote reform, but says many are resistant.
“We think it’s an attempt to consolidate power in the hands of one person,” says Noel Hammatt, an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board member and Pastorek critic. “He’s got the power to basically hire people at $250,000, without even really explaining what they’re going to do.” Hammatt says Pastorek talks at school board members about what he wants to do, but doesn’t really discuss issues with them. For a Business Report cover profile of Pastorek, click here.—David Jacobs