Friday, May 11, 2007

The Two Pauls

Wednesday night I attended a meeting in Mid-City organized by Councilmember Midura where the residents of District A got to meet our two new state education leaders: State Superintendent Paul Pastorek and the Superintendent of the Recovery School District Paul Vallas. They're often referred to as "the Two Pauls."

Mr. Pastorek is an attorney who was a partner with the firm Adams and Reese for more than 20 years. He worked on the BESE school board from 1996-2004, and ruffled many feathers when he played political hardball against unions and worked to have Col. Al Davis become the Superintendant of New Orleans schools. That of course ended badly. W. Bush appointed Mr. Pastorek General Counsel for NASA, where he served from 2002-2004. He then returned to his law practice, until March of 2007, when he was annointed by Gov. Blanco and the BESE board to run Louisiana's schools. He'll oversee 69 school districts, 1400 schools, and about 650,000 students. It's a pretty hefty task for someone with neither classroom nor school administration experience. But Louisiana and New Orleans both have a long history of hiring attorneys to run our education system. Curiously not many law firms are looking for education experts to oversee their operations.

Pastorek chose Paul Vallas to run the Recovery School District on May 4th, shortly after Robin Jarvis announced she was retiring. Mr. Vallas has experience in urban school systems, as he oversaw Chicago schools from 1995 to 2001 and Philadelphia for from 2002 until the present. Test scores increased in both school systems under Vallas' supervision. Critics charge that he left both systems in shambles. Philadelphia's school system is being saddled with a $73 million debt. Vallas' family is moving to Chicago, and he will commute back and forth he says. I'd be more impressed if Pastorek and Vallas both enrolled their kids in RSD schools, but of course that will never happen. Vallas will officially begin his job on July 1, when Robin Jarvis steps down, which makes me curious why Jarvis is still being payed her $125,000 salary? By the way, Vallas was paid $275,000 in Philadelphia. By the way again, he looks like John Lithgow.

At the meeting Wednesday both Pauls asked that we be optimistic and hopeful. Mr. Vallas gave some bold and specific goals. The most interesting part of the meeting came from the questions and comments section. One teacher from Dibert asked that they quit referring to what is going on with education in New Orleans as "an experiment." I could not agree more. Others including myself voiced our frustration at 20 months of dealing with the RSD. When they took over our schools they promised transparency and community collaboration, and neither has happened thus far. Both Pauls promised they would work closely with the community. But this meeting wasn't about collaboration. Instead they told us what would happen to our neighborhood schools. Some would be demolished, one near me will be a high school, even though it's a facility meant for 7-8 graders and there is no parking. One school near me, Crossman, was listed to be an RSD school with 540 kids. The building can hold 250 at most. Moreover, there was a man in the audience from La Escuela Esperanza in Chicago who said Crossman was promised by Jarvis and others to him as a Spanish-language charter school. So still nobody really knows what is happening to our neighborhood schools, and we can't figure out who is making the decisions.

Meanwhile at Dibert today, the principal said the RSD was out measuring his playground in order to put extra modular trailers there so the school could hold more students next year. The mood was gloomy, but not because of the modular trailers. The LEAP scores were back and more than 70% of the 8th graders won't be going to the 9th grade because of their low test scores.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Karen said...

I have a hard time with hiring people who are not willing to move here. If this place is going to function again our leaders should have to experience it as we do.

A School Leader who has moved his family to Chicago and has a flight phobia is a temporary fix,at best.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For more information on Paul Vallas's tenure in Chicago, check in with Designs for Change, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), and the urban education center/institute at DePaul University.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Michael Homan said...

Designs for Change.
Didn't find anything on the website. I wrote them asking for info.
PURE.
Quite a few articles about teaching the tests and financial mismanagement is you search under "Vallas."
DePaul Center for Urban Education.
Didn't find any information. I wrote them also.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a somewhat partisan view, look at www.substancenews.com. Substance is a newspaper published by a former Chicago Public Schools teacher, George Schmidt, whom Paul Vallas fired and sued for a million dollars because the newspaper published a CPS-written high school test, the CASE exam. The CASE was a terrible, poorly-designed test that was ultimately dropped by the system after Vallas left, but Schmidt continues to be unable to teach in the system.The case was settled for $500.

That's just one example of Paul Vallas's vindictiveness. He can never be wrong, which makes him a dangerous person to be making decisions that affect children.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

more proof of out-of-towners getting preferential treatment over locals and questionable Chicago relationships:

Louisiana Secretary of State
Detailed Record

Charter/Organization ID: 36305739N

Name: ESPERANZA CHARTER SCHOOL ASSOCIATION, INC.

Type Entity: Non-Profit Corporation

Status: Active

Annual Report Status: In Good Standing

Mailing Address: C/O LEE C. REID, 701 POYDRAS ST., SUITE 4500, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70139

Domicile Address: 701 POYDRAS ST., SUITE 4500, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70139

File Date: 11/07/2006

Registered Agent (Appointed 11/07/2006): LEE C. REID, 701 POYDRAS ST., SUITE 4500, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70139

President: AZUCENA DIAZ, 908 ROBERT STREET, GRETNA, LA 70056

Director: AZUCENA DIAZ, 908 ROBERT STREET, GRETNA, LA 70056

Vice President: JUAN RANGEL, 954 W. WASHINGTON BLVD, 3RD FLOOR, CHICAGO, IL 60607

Director: JUAN RANGEL, 954 W. WASHINGTON BLVD, 3RD FLOOR, CHICAGO, IL 60607

Secretary/Treasurer: MARTIN O. GUETIERREZ, 2108 BELMONT PLACE, METAIRIE, LA 70001

Director: MARTIN O. GUETIERREZ, 2108 BELMONT PLACE, METAIRIE, LA 70001


http://www.unocharterschools.org/cgi-bin/index.pl

Board of Directors

PRESIDENT
Juan Rangel, United Neighborhood Organization

http://www.uno-online.org/
"Through this network, UNO driectly manages three charter campuses that serve over 1,000 Chicago students."


SEE THIS ARTICLE!!!!

http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/arch/11-00/1100Acorn_Uno.htm

So you want to start a school?
Case studies, part 2

ACORN, UNO: Schools Stumble

Found the public notice for their board meeting on their Chicago-based website:

http://www.unocharterschools.org/cgi-bin/esperanza.pl


Esperanza Charter School

Public Notice


Esperanza Charter School Association, Inc. Board Meeting


Monday, March 26, 2007, 6pm Sheraton Hotel, 500 Canal St. , Salon 817 New Orleans, LA



The Board of Trustees of the Esperanza Charter School Association, Inc. will have their regularly scheduled Board Meeting on Monday, March 26, 2007 at 6 pm at the Sheraton Hotel, 500 Canal St., Salon 817, New Orleans, LA


Agenda

I. Call to Order and Roll Call
II. Approval of Minutes (February 26, 2007 Board Meeting)
III. Reports:

a. Update on 501- C3
b. Funds
c. Facilities
d. Student Recruitment
e. Staff Recruitment

IV. New Business
V. Next Meeting: ____________
VI. Adjournment
For more information, please contact Juan Rangel at (312) 432-6301

10:41 AM  
Blogger mominem said...

Michael,

I honor your passion and commitment to making education in New Orleans work, something that has not happened in a long time.

It is only through the efforts of dedicated parents that education will improve. Quality education in New Orleans is the foundation for the future of New Orleans.

Keep up the good fight.

10:57 PM  

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