Former Congressman for State Schools Chief in Louisiana?

By Sean Cavanagh — August 26, 2011 1 min read
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Louisiana officials haven’t settled on a state superintendent of education to replace Paul Pastorek, who left the post earlier this year. But one intriguing and surprising candidate has emerged recently: former U.S. Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao.

Media outlets in the state have reported that Cao, the first Vietnamese-American ever to serve in Congress, has contacted at least one member of the state board of elementary and secondary education, as well as the office of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, to express interest in the job.

A spokesman for the governor, Kyle Plotkin, told me that Cao has been in touch with the governor to talk “about some of his future interests,” including the state superintendent’s post.

Jindal’s choice for for the position is John White, the leader of the state-run Recovery School District, which was established in 2003 and later assumed control over schools devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The governor continues to think White is the best pick, said Plotkin. The state board of education has not yet acted in filling the post.

“We strongly support a reform candidate to be the next Superintendent,” Plotkin said in an e-mail, “and John White fits that description.”

Cao, a Republican, vaulted to prominence in 2008 when he defeated incumbent Democratic Congressman William Jefferson, who was under indictment on corruption charges. (Jefferson was later convicted.) Cao was the first Republican to hold the heavily Democratic congressional seat since 1891.

Last fall, Cao was defeated in his bid for re-election by Democrat Cedric Richmond. Cao’s interest in the school superintentendent’s job—currently held on an acting basis by Ollie Tyler—came as a surprise, given that he had previously announced his plans to run for state attorney general.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.