Skip to content

John White’s Teaching Experience with Chicago Public Schools

June 29, 2017

It seems that so much surrounding Louisiana state superintendent John White is, well, muddy.

On June 23, 2017, former Louisiana state superintendent Paul Pastorek published an op-ed that the Shreveport Times entitled, “Pastorek: Why John White Should Not Get the Boot.” In his op-ed, Pastorek makes the following comment:

It is the exclusive province of the BESE to select its superintendent and there is a substantial majority of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that support the superintendent. In my view, that’s a good thing.​

Note that the “substantial majority” is at best 7 out of 11 BESE members– not the supermajority of 8 needed to reappoint White.

Note also that in April 2011, Pastorek had brazenly published a press release announcing White as the new Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent before BESE even voted on White’s appointment– which caused some embarrassment for Pastorek when he had to admit his premature maneuverings to Louisiana House Appropriations Committee chair, Jim Fannin.

Still, White became RSD superintendent in May 2011 and then flew to the top seat to replace Pastorek as state superintendent in January 2012. RSD was just a temporary stopping point for White. His planned destination was the state superintendent’s post.

White had been state superintendent in Louisiana for several years when he applied for the Louisiana licensing credentials that would allow him to become a school assistant principal or principal and, beyond that, a district superintendent.

White had never been an assistant principal or principal; as for his seven months as RSD superintendent, Pastorek arranged to have him ushered in absent the required certification.

But by late 2015, facing the prospect of a governor who openly did not support him and a BESE election on which his reappointment rested on securing 8 out of 11 seats, White apparently saw the need to obtain at least the appearance of legitimate credentials.

Louisiana offers three administrative credentials. Levels 1 and 2 require at most three years of teaching experience in an area of certification. Levels 1 and 2 are sufficient for one to become an assistant principal or principal. (For more on La ed leader cert, see this post.)

John White has three years of teaching experience in New Jersey in high school English (1999-2002). For two of the three years (2000-2002), he held a New Jersey teaching certificate at the time that he taught. The documentation is part of White’s application for Louisiana ed leader certification.

However, one could argue that all three years fall under the necessary “teaching experience in area of certification” necessary for ed leader certification levels 1 and 2.

But for ed leader level 3– the certification that one needs in order to legitimately become an assistant superintendent or superintendent in Louisiana– one needs five years of teaching experience in an area of certification.

On his application, White wrote that he had two years of teaching experience with Chicago Public Schools from 2004-2006 in the position of “teacher coach and mentor.”

  John White’s listing of his Chicago Public Schools *teaching experience*

White included no supporting documentation to prove that he was employed by Chicago Public Schools, period. He did include a letter from Teach for America stating that he held the position of executive director, Chicago region, from 2002-2007.

John White offers no proof of employment with Chicago Public Schools, much less teaching experience in an area of certification from 2004-2006, to support the information he provided on his application.

Yet BESE lets it slide.

I pressed this point in a June 11-12, 2017, email exchange with BESE executive director, Shan Davis, who sent a chart supposedly explaining that White met the criteria of five years teaching experience for level 3. However, the charter omits the criteria, “five years teaching experience in area of certification.

Too, without offering an inkling of verifying White’s claim of employment with Chicago Public Schools, the chart on White’s supposedly meeting the criteria blindly states:

Eight school years of classroom experience as teacher and teacher coach in New Jersey and Illinois

In order for White to be given credit for anything more than three years of teaching experience, BESE must ignore the legal stipulation “in area of certification.”

They must also ignore the fact that White intentionally tried to make it appear not that he had five years with Teach for America as an executive director but that two of those years involved working directly for the Chicago Public Schools.

So, I took it upon myself to do what BESE failed to do:

I submitted a public records request to Chicago Public Schools regarding White’s alleged employment there.

I also searched to see if White had ever held an Illinois teaching certificate.

On June 21, 2017, I submitted the following public records request to Chicago Public Schools:

FOIA Request :: N003126-062117
From: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center <>
To: deutsch29 <>
Date: Wed, Jun 21, 2017 9:15 am

Dear Mercedes:

Thank you for your interest in Chicago Public Schools. Your FOIA request has been received and is being processed. Your FOIA Center reference number for tracking purposes is: N003126-062117

You have requested the following records: I am seeking to verify that John Charles White was employed by Chicago Public Schools as a teacher coach and mentor from 2004-2006, or if the Chicago Public Schools employed John Charles White from 2004-2006 in any capacity. Furthermore, if John Charles White was not employed by CPS as a in any capacity, I seek formal documentation from CPS verifying as much. John Charles White was born in November 1975 and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1999). He taught in New Jersey (Jersey City School District) from 1999-2002. Thank you.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) responds to all public records requests in accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq.

Due to the high volume of FOIA requests received by CPS, we are unable to fulfill your request within 5 business days. Section 3(e)(vi) of FOIA permits CPS to extend the response time to 10 business days if a request cannot be fulfilled in 5 business days without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the District. We hereby extend the response time to your FOIA request to 10 business days in accordance with 5 ILCS 140/3(e)(vi).

If further time is needed to assemble and copy all documents responsive to your FOIA request, we will contact you with a time estimate and a request to extend.

Upon the completion of a response, CPS will provide the first 50 pages to you at no charge.  If a response is more than 50 pages, a fee of 15¢ per page will be charged for each additional page. Copies of video recordings have a fee of $48. All applicable fees must be paid prior to the copying. CPS will inform you of any fees due if your paper response exceeds 50 pages.   

You can monitor the progress of your request at the link below and you’ll receive an email when your request has been completed. Thank you for using the CPS FOIA Center.


Track the issue status and respond at:

On June 28, 2017, I received the following response:

Non-Commercial FOIA Request :: N003126-062117
From: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center <>
To: deutsch29 <>
Date: Wed, Jun 28, 2017 10:22 am

— Please respond above this line —


Dr. Mercedes Schneider

Dear Mercedes:

RE:  Chicago Public Schools FOIA Request N003126-062117  

Thank you for using the Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center.

We have conducted a search for records responsive to this request.

No records, responsive to your request were located.

If you have any questions, please contact me at 773-553-1602.


Annie Righi

FOIA Assistant

Chicago Public Schools

How many years of teaching experience in any area of certification does John White have as an employee of Chicago Public Schools?


As for that Illinois teaching certificate search, the query “john white” produced no hits for “John C. White.” Furthermore, all five hits for “John White” (no middle initial) yielded the result, “no records found.”

John White has no teaching experience in an area of certification in Chicago Public Schools. Furthermore, John White has never held a teaching license in Illinois. Yet he would misrepresent part of his Teach for America time as employment for Chicago Public Schools.

BESE’s willingness to overlook (indeed, sidestep) these facts is shameful, and it leaves the board and White open for litigation from Chicago Public Schools.

Yes, Chicago Public Schools: You should sue White for misrepresenting employment with you and also sue La.’s BESE for being complicit in the lie.

As for Louisiana: Every Louisiana local school board needs to know that John White has only three years of classroom teaching experience. Only three.

Even as Paul Pastorek tries to resell White in the Shreveport op-eds, appearing legit to local school boards seems to be White’s BESE-enabled Plan B.

If having him as a state superintendent isn’t repulsive enough, let his sad lack of classroom experience repulse you further.

  John White


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. Linda permalink

    Thanks for caring enough and working so diligently to expose the shams of the corrupters who plot to impose their agenda on education.

  2. DanG permalink

    I remember Pastorek well. He was merely a “bush league” sleazebag, John White however is “world class”.

    • It appears that in modern days it is even a popular (and even publicly recognized) goal to move from bush-league to world-class sleazebag.

  3. Linda permalink

    White’s one of those self-anointed “Chiefs of Change”, so popular with the corporations. We’ve learned to expect a sense of entitlement from those who attend the schools of the wealthy. If White attended D.C.’s St. Albans, it’s one of the most expensive schools in the nation. Then, typical of a type, they work to privatize public schools.
    The nation’s aristocratic class of takers expect taxpayers to subsidize their educations. White attended state-funded prestigious universities, which the public sacrificed to provide as an alternative to legacy admission colleges. White, given his career choice to privatize, while picking up a public-provided salary, should pay the states’ taxpayers back for his degrees. That would be, if he had character. But, Schneider has documentation to prove the truth.

  4. Bridget permalink


    Take a look at TAP, the new teacher evaluation program, being pushed by LDOE and White. They are using the NIET, National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, which is headed by Lowell Milken, brother of Michael Miliken of felonious hedge fund fame.

    This SMELLS super FISHY to me. It seems that Milken has some ties with ALEC. As is with all ALEC drive education reform. It is ALL ABOUT MONEY for education providers.

    Anyway, I thought you might be interested.

  5. According to an article in Substance News, White worked with TFA in Chicago for 3 years.

  6. L. L. permalink

    From a representative of BESE, ” There was no official search committee or an official search in 2012.” What is the hiring process for state government employees that assures guidelines like those of the EEOC are met?
    Did an applicant from a protected class apply for the job when it was posted?

    • Here is the Statute that provides for the appointment, by BESE, of the State Superintendent who works under a contract with BESE. BESE can choose to recommend and move to appoint or replace the superintendent in any manner and at any time. While a formal search for a candidate would theoretically provide BESE and the public with a broader field of qualified candidates and afford the opportunity for interviews and circumspection, BESE is not restricted to that process. When John White was first “selected” as Superintendent in 2012, it appeared to be a purely political move coordinated between then Gov. Jindal and those BESE members willing to support his agenda pro privatize public education. Therefore there was no need or desire for a search. Because John White was not qualified to be State Superintendent (or principal or district superintendent), BESE also used its ability to waive those qualifications with the same 2/3 vote it enjoyed and used to appoint and waive. Part I Chapter 3: Section 309. Appointment of Superintendent.

      The desire to keep Superintendent White in control of public education explains the millions of campaign dollars donated to the majority BESE candidates in 2012 and again in 2015.

      • Linda permalink

        We, as citizens of a nation that was once a democracy, are learning the process by which the the will of the people is trampled in service to oligarchs like Bill and Melinda Gates,

  7. xian e franzinger barrett permalink

    To be fair, White using the children of Chicago (our children) as stepping stones for his own career advancement is about as perfectly Teach For America as one can get.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. John White and Katherine Westerhold | deutsch29
  2. About La. Supt. John White’s Father, Peter A. White (And More) | deutsch29
  3. EXCLUSIVE: John White’s PRAXIS Scores Do Not Equal Five Years of Teaching Experience | deutsch29
  4. La. Supt. John White’s Certification in “English As Part of a Mix of Subjects” (Eh?) | deutsch29
  5. Investigating John White’s Teaching Experience: The Emails (Part IV) | deutsch29

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: