School & District Management

Paul Pastorek, Former Louisiana Ed. Chief, Joins Broad Foundation’s Education Team

By Denisa R. Superville — July 17, 2015 3 min read
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Paul Pastorek, the former Louisiana schools chief who raised state accountability standards and oversaw the rebuilding of the New Orleans school system after Hurricane Katrina, was named Friday as one of two co-executive directors of the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s education work.

Pastorek, who was already affiliated with the Broads as the chairman of the board of directors of the Broad Center, will serve as co-executive director with Gregory McGinity.

McGinity, a former congressional staffer and education policy consultant with the California Board of Education, now works as the senior managing director of the foundation.

The Broads announced the leadership changes in a letter Friday. They also announced at the same time that Bruce Reed, the foundation’s president, was leaving to spend more time on a variety of “domestic issues” and his “lifelong interests in writing and politics.”

Reed will remain as a consultant and senior adviser to the foundation until Aug. 31 and will continue as a member of the board of directors of the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. Reed, a former assistant to President Obama and chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was the foundation’s first president and was named to the position in November 2013.

“Bruce has approached his work at the foundation with energy, enthusiasm and a commitment to advance our work to protect the public school franchise and ensure every student in America has a shot at a great education and productive life,” they wrote.

Urban education has been a major focus for the Broad Foundation, which over the years has spent a tremendous amount of energy and money on strategies it believes are most effective for improving school districts that serve large numbers of poor and minority students, including robust support for charter schools.

Earlier this year, the foundation suspended its signature prize, the annual $1 million Broad Prize for Urban Education, acknowledging that urban school districts had not made sufficient academic gains and that the urban school landscape had changed. The foundation has continued to award its annual charter prize.

Given that, Pastorek’s selection makes sense. Earlier this year, Reed told Education Week that the foundation was focusing its advocacy and energy (in education, at least) on “pushing forward on charter-quality and expansion [and] pushing for more states to follow the lead of Louisiana and Tennessee.”

Reed was talking about state-run school districts and states getting into the business of taking over the governance of low-performing schools and often handing over their operations to charter management organizations, which we are seeing more and more of. Think Nevada and Georgia as the latest two.

The Broads said as much in their letter.

“Given Paul’s experience in New Orleans and The Broad Foundation’s investment strategy to advance state-run recovery school districts that focus on dramatically improving the lowest-performing public schools, he will oversee our work to advance alternative governance models and create more high-quality options for families,” the Broads wrote.

McGinity, they said, will oversee policy and investments and advocacy initiatives along with Pastorek.

In our interview, Reed also said the foundation will continue to: recruit and develop talent through the Broad Academy and residency programs; continue to “press the case” for equal access to effective teachers, as the organization did through supporting the California teacher-tenure case, Vergara v. California; and advocate during the recently concluded ESEA debate.

Pastorek, a lawyer by training, was Louisiana’s state education chief from 2007 to 2011. He served on the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from 1996 to 2004, holding the post of president from 2001 to 2004.

He has been praised for raising accountability standards in the state during this tenure, and the Broads cited his efforts to turn around more than 100 “challenged” schools. He also helped usher in the massive influx of charter schools in New Orleans, where nearly every public school is a charter.

The Associated Press, which called Pastorek “an architect of school accountability measures” in Louisiana, wrote last year that Pastorek had resigned from his job as chief administrative officer of Airbus Group and planned to return to education.

Caption: New Orleans Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas, left, and Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek listen to Byron Addison, coach at Clark High School, at a meeting to update the public on the status of the Recovery School District in 2007. -AP/File

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.