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Tuesday, August 21, 2018
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Panelist Bio


Paul Pastorek
Louisiana’s State Superintendent of Education

Paul Pastorek was appointed Louisiana's State Superintendent of Education in March 2007 by the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). In January 2008, BESE re-appointed Mr. Pastorek to the position.

Mr. Pastorek served on the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from 1996-2004, including the last three years as President of the Board. On his departure from the Board, Louisiana was noted as having the best rated statewide Accountability program in the United States.

For the last 20 years, Mr. Pastorek has been working to improve public education in Louisiana. He started as a passionate volunteer in a New Orleans inner city junior high school. His experiences led him to study education issues and he began working through the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce to push for improvements. His work came to the attention of Governor Mike Foster who appointed him to BESE. After stepping down from the Board in 2004, Mr. Pastorek formed Next Horizon, a non-profit organization that serves as a statewide think tank to connect Louisiana's leadership – education, government, business and community – as a force supporting school improvement.

Mr. Pastorek is an attorney and was licensed by Louisiana to practice law in 1979. He joined the law firm of Adams and Reese, then a New Orleans based law firm. He has been associated with Adams and Reese for over 27 years, first as a litigator, and later a corporate and transactional attorney.

In February 2002, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as General Counsel to NASA. He served as both the chief legal official for the agency and as a trusted advisor to then NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe. In addition, he served on and led several senior management and leadership committees, including leading the team that developed NASA's 2004 "transformational" reorganization plan. For his service at NASA, he received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal and NASA's Distinguished Service Medal. After two and half years of service, Mr. Pastorek left NASA to return to Adams and Reese.

Mr. Pastorek is a volunteer in his community; he has served on several boards, participated in many business groups and is the recipient of numerous awards and medals from various organizations and groups. He is married to Kathy Pastorek. They have three grown children, Ryan, Jeffrey and Kaitlin.

Current Topic


     08/18 - The Power of Reading

How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?
The ability to read sets the foundation of who we are and what we can be. Through reading we expand our world, learn new things and increase our base of knowledge. In fact, a parent’s reading level is the greatest factor in a child’s academic success. Children who can’t read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

In Louisiana, 20 percent of adults are illiterate – five points higher than the national rate. How is Louisiana combatting its illiteracy problem across generational lines? How can we make inroads to improve adult literacy in Louisiana and champion a joy of reading from pre-school into adulthood?

Louisiana Public Square: The Power of Reading looks for answers and explores the value of lifelong reading through the lens of the PBS series The Great American Read Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm on LPB and in New Orleans on WLAE. (Recorded Tuesday, August 14 in the Magnolia Performing Arts Pavilion at Baton Rouge Community College.)

Our panelists are:
- Linda-Marie Barrett, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA)
- Rebecca Hamilton, MLIS; Louisiana State Librarian
- Danny Heitman; Journalist and Louisiana author
- Miranda Restovic, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).
- Gary Robertson; Adult Literacy Advocates

The program features interviews with John Cavalier, owner of Cavalier House Books; Gary Robertson, Executive Director of Adult Literacy Advocates; representatives from the LEH PRIME TIME intergenerational reading program, and Superintendent John White with the Louisiana Department of Education.

LPB CEO Beth Courtney and Robyn Merrick, Southern University VP of External Affairs, host the show.

Louisiana Public Square can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.

This episode of Louisiana Public Square is underwritten by Community Coffee’s Cash for Schools Program, the Louisiana Forestry Association, LSU Press and the Southern Independent Booksellers’ Authors Round the South.

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Special Presentation


     05/16 - Louisiana Veterans Coming Home

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     09/18 - Revisiting Reform

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