Wednesday, September 30, 2009

President Haynes Responds to Pastorek

LAE President Haynes responds to Superintendent Pastorek's remarks about the Career Options Diploma program:

Superintendent Paul Pastorek’s remarks to the High School Redesign Commission on Monday raises some serious concerns about his commitment to all students in Louisiana. He continues to espouse that the legislative-mandated programs, such as the Career Options Diploma for Louisiana students, will cost the state federal funds in the Race for The Top Program (RTTT).

Mr. Pastorek, the LA-DOE, and some members of BESE have been working against the intent of the Career Options Diploma. This law provides for the inclusion of new classes designed to engage students in career-oriented courses and to trim the dropout rate. At the September BESE board meeting, several business and community leaders testified to the need for both workplace readiness skills and an expanded set of applied curriculum, focused on workplace and student needs. Mr. Pastorek is strategically adding roadblocks such as not allowing school districts to enroll students with past discipline problems, and requiring “end of course” tests.

Louisiana cannot implement a “one size fits all” education for such a richly, diverse state. Currently 30-35% of all Louisiana students drop out before graduation. Many drop out because they are not engaged in a curriculum that they find relevant. This can result in discipline problems, lower grades, and a higher failure rate on state tests that are often used inappropriately to impede student progress.

I don’t believe that the RTTT fund will be denied to states that try to develop rigorous appropriate courses for all students. If as Mr. Pastorek indicated, RTTT funds are predicated on not developing this curriculum that prepares students for a successful transition to the workplace, then he should revamp his staff and focus on ways to better educate the students of Louisiana. Louisiana’s education system needs Mr. Pastorek to be focused on a better education system for all our students.

Joyce Haynes
President of the Louisiana Association of Educators

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