reports from a local parent monitoring public education in New Orleans

The Greater New Orleans Education Foundation

Tonight at the hastily-announced RSD update meeting, I asked Paul Pastorek who was working on the return of schools to local governance. First, he said no-one was, then he said Bob O’Reilly with the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation. Mr. Pastorek further said that we must first define what type of system we want, then he said we cannot return the schools to a local system without the capacity to manage them.

I have heard of GNOEF before, not in a positive light (and not really since). Let’s look again:

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Criteria for Board Selection :

Business, political and university leaders with strong interest in public education reform were chosen to lead the Foundation in its objectives and policies.

Executive Board :
Robert D. Riley (Co-Chair) – Vice President, The Reily Companies

Alden J. McDonald, Jr. (Co-Chair) – President & CEO, Liberty Bank and Trust

C. Ray Nagin (Vice-Chair) – Mayor, City of New Orleans

James Reiss, Jr. – Reiss Companies, LLC

Kenneth E. Pickering (Finance Co-Chair) – Partner, Pickering & Cotogno

Elizabeth Rack (Finance Co-Chair) – Former OPSB Member

Paul G. Pastorek – General Counsel, NASA

Dr. Gerri Elie – Retired Professor, Dillard University

R. King Milling – President, Whitney National Bank

Herschel L. Abbott, Jr. – Former President, Bell South-Louisiana

Dr. Brenda L. Mitchell – President, United Teachers of New Orleans

Florida Woods – President, Professional Administrators of New Orleans Public Schools

Policy Board :

Dr. Scott S. Cowen – President, Tulane University

Dr. Norman C. Francis – President, Xavier University

Dr. Alex Johnson – President, Delgado Community College

Rev. William J. Byron, S.J. – President, Loyola University

Dr. Timothy P. Ryan – Chancellor, University of New Orleans

Dr. Press L. Robinson – Chancellor, Southern University of New Orleans

Dr. Paul T. Caesar – President, Our Lady of Holy Cross College
***

Since Katrina I have asked Dr. Brenda Mitchell and about this group and she said unequivocally that she was not a part of this group and she knew the names I read to her but not the organization name. She said she had not attended any such meetings to her memory.

Who’s GNOEF?

When do they meet? Do they have bylaws? Who pays their office rent? Inquiring minds want to know. Are they board members for life?

Tonight Mr. Pastorek referred to this organization as the ‘core group’ of who is considering the future of our schools. He did not disclose that he was a member, much less a director, of this group.

Greater New Orleans Education Foundation
1515 Poydras Street, Suite 1880, New Orleans, LA 70112
(504) 593.9100 Office (504) 593-9511 Fax gnoef@bellsouth.net

Who’s Bob Reily?

Speaking about special interests, let’s talk about how Paul Pastorek uses social connections for jobs:

“Mr. Pastorek’s role at NASA is his first position in the federal government. Appointed by President George W. Bush, he took command of the general counsel’s office in February, 2002. And no, it did not hurt that Mr. Patorek was a close boyhood friend of his fellow Louisianan and the current chief of NASA, Administrator Sean O’Keefe.

Before going to Washington, Mr. Pastorek handled business law matters, commercial litigation and transactional work as a managing partner at Adams and Reese in New Orleans. While there, he managed the firm’s groups that specialized in government relations, as well as intellectual property, labor and other hot areas.

Back home in Louisiana, NASA’s head lawyer is active in community and state issues, particularly in the area of education. Since 2000, he has been President of Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and has lent his skill and attention as a member of various commissions on K-12 education, community colleges and higher education.

A married father of three, Mr. Pastorek earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Loyola University of New Orleans. ”
***

Is the “hot” unit at Adams & Reese the civil discontent unit? The plantation-enforcement unit? What’s up with that?

Now what else I’d like to know is, where did Mr. Pastorek’s children go to school?

(apologies to the Pastorek children – this is not about you, but your Dad is wreaking havoc on the rest of us.)

Cursory searches of their names imply lifetimes of private schools.
***

Who else is in GNOEF?

James Reiss, real estate investor and chair of the Regional Transit Authority (i.e., the man responsible for the buses that didn’t evacuate people)

and also

another great moment in Jimmy Reiss history:

“During the immediate post-Katrina period, there were essentially two visions of a resurgent New Orleans. One, widely decried as racist, saw the new, improved New Orleans as smaller, whiter and more prosperous.

This was openly advocated. Just a few days after the storm, a wealthy member of the city’s power elite, James Reiss, told The Wall Street Journal: “Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically.”

Mr. Reiss, who is white and served in Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s administration as chairman of the Regional Transit Authority (he has since left the government), said that he and many of his colleagues would leave town if New Orleans did not become a city with better services and fewer poor people.”

so let’s have these people exclusively control schools, ok? yes? wow.

Pickering hmmm I know that name too let me see … here . I don’t know if Charles and Kenneth are related, but I do know see that certain industries seem to have a death-grip on our public infrastructure.

Too many lawyers, no parents. No hands-on educators, for that matter, either.

Can people who actually are a part of the public school system please have a voice in it?

Why are we begging? Haven’t we been through enough?

Mr. Pastorek, have you served to improve public education for the greater good or are you serving another interest?

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