Paul Pastorek, a warrior for reform in public education, announced yesterday that he is resigning as superintendent of education to return to the private sector, where he will reunite with Sean O’Keefe—his friend, former co-worker and college roommate—at EADS, a global aerospace and defense company.
Pastorek fought hard for change while serving Gov. Bobby Jindal and our state, and he has the battle scars as proof. His resuscitation of the moribund New Orleans school system, plus the recruitment of Paul Vallas and more recently John White to head that district, is remarkable and has drawn the admiration of reformers and educators across the nation. I have heard the praise firsthand while attending national conventions, listening to education officials and business executives marvel about the change taking place in Louisiana public education. Unfortunately, we have a select and vocal group—uninformed legislators, short-sighted BESE members, incompetent superintendents and school board members, and shameless teacher unions officials—who didn’t appreciate Pastorek’s brand of leadership and his version of progress on behalf of our children. Like Pastorek, I say to hell with those opponents to change who are only concerned with protecting jobs and not children.
“Paul has been a bold reformer who has never wavered in his support for doing what’s best for Louisiana’s kids,” says Gov. Bobby Jindal. “Because of Paul’s passion and vision for improving education in Louisiana, we’ve made historic gains in academic achievement, increasing the graduation rate and reducing the dropout rate.”
Pastorek didn’t do everything right. Who among us ever does? Yet everything he did was done with passion and courage. For that, he deserves our admiration. I know he has mine. Pastorek was a mover and a shaker, shaking public education up for the better. He leaves big shoes to fill and will be missed. I wish my friend well. To read the full column on Pastorek, click here. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. —Rolfe McCollister
Today’s poll question: How do you grade the job Paul Pastorek has done as state education superintendent?