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La. Supt. John White’s Certification in “English As Part of a Mix of Subjects” (Eh?)

July 26, 2017

I have written a series of posts focused on the number of years of “teaching experience in an area of certification” accomplished by Louisiana state superintendent John White.

john white 2John White

In my first post, I focused on the five years of teaching experience in an area of certification necessary to gain Louisiana ed leader 3 credentialing, a necessary condition for a person to become a local superintendent in Louisiana. In this first post, I comment on the fact that in an extensive interview with EdNext, White’s teaching experience is noted to be three years and that White omits any hint of number of years of teaching experience from his professional bios.

My second post, published one day after the first, includes White’s actual application for ed leader certification. According to that application, the answer is three (at best). The only teaching certificate that John White holds or has ever held is from New Jersey, in the area of English. White taught in New Jersey from 1999 to 2002 (three years) with Teach for America. His New Jersey teaching certificate in English was granted in 2000. A email confirming White’s possessing a New Jersey teaching certificate in English can be found as part of his 2016 application for Louisiana education leader credentials.

White included no other teaching certification of license as part of that application, neither in any additional subject area in New Jersey nor in any other state, including any state that offers teaching credential reciprocity, which involves converting a teaching credential from one state to another.

On his application, John White completed the teaching experience section in such a way as to advance the false impression that he worked from 2004-2006 for Chicago Public Schools (CPS):

JW ed leader cert

So, in my third post, I published the results of a public records request that I sent to CPS regarding its hiring John White for the position of “teacher coach and mentor” (see above pic) for 2004-06. CPS stated that it had no record of hiring John White for any position. Too, a search of the Illinois teacher certificates produced no result for John White’s having ever held an Illinois teaching certificate, which would have included White’s having transferred his New Jersey teaching certificate in English to Illinois.

Thus, I concluded (and still do conclude) that John White does not possess the five years of teaching in an area of certification necessary to satisfy the condition of being granted Louisiana ed leader 3 certification according to Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Bulletin 746, which carries the weight of law. Nevertheless, in June 2016, John White was granted that certification.

In my third post, I noted that in a June 11-12, 2017, email exchange that I had with BESE exec director Shan Davis, she tried to say that White actually has eight years of teaching experience, implying that White’s years as executive director for Teach for America (TFA) in New Jersey and Chicago counted as teaching experience in an area of certification:

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

I maintain that it is a generous and illegal stretch to accord John White with a year of teaching experience for each of his years as an executive director for TFA.

White would have to prove that he was teaching English in New Jersey. He possesses no other teacher certification, neither in Illinois, period, nor in New Jersey in any subject other than English.

On July 24, 2017, I was challenged on the issue of White’s years of credentialed teaching experience by Lamar White, Jr., et al. of bayoubrief.com, who corporately asserted that I am somehow misguided on the point.

I responded to the bayoubrief.com challenge and maintain that I am not misled.

On July 25, 2017, Lamar White updated his original post as follows:

As a quick follow-up to yesterday’s story on The Bayou Brief about Supt. John White (which, as we had anticipated, made some folks upset with us):

The allegation that he “falsified” documents in order to receive his Level Three certification rests on the assumption that he only has three- and not the requisite five- years of classroom teaching experience in his area of certification.

We made a very deliberate effort to keep the piece short and to the point, but perhaps we were too pithy.

We put this question directly to Sydni Dunn, Communications Director at the Louisiana Department of Education.

“As we discussed last week, Superintendent White has eight school years of classroom experience as a teacher and a teacher coach in New Jersey and Illinois,” she wrote via e-mail. “That’s in addition to more than a decade of administrative experience in New York and Louisiana.”

We can find no evidence contradicting this assertion, made on the record and which, if false, would allow for the state to remove his certification, per Section 909 of Bulletin 746.

The case against him is largely built on an interview he conducted in 2011 with the publication EducationNext, which refers to his three years as an English teacher at Dickinson High School in Jersey City, New Jersey and the assumption that he stopped teaching after Teach for America sent him to Illinois to lead recruitment and mentorship (hence the title “teacher coach”).

According to his office, however, he taught- in the public school classroom- for another five years, more than satisfying the requirement. Presumably, he was not teaching Calculus, though I know that some people will not be satisfied unless he discloses what he taught.

So we asked.

“During the years he served as a teacher coach and mentor, Superintendent White taught both English exclusively and English as part of a mix of subjects,” Dunn responded.

There you have it.

I considered not responding because Lamar White’s et al. update continues to flounder among the ridiculous, especially given all of the documentation I have provided in (up to that point) four posts. However, since I have additional documents I wish to make available to the public, here we go, once again.

First of all, Lamar White’s et al. word of authority comes from Sydni Dunn, who is a hired mouthpiece for John White. And Dunn isn’t saying anything that I haven’t already publicized from Shan Davis, only Dunn is saying it worse because she is saying it after my numerous postings about John White’s not having five years of teaching experience in an area of certification.

Here are Dunn’s words as Lamar White et al. posted them on July 25, 2017:

During the years he served as a teacher coach and mentor, Superintendent White taught both English exclusively and English as part of a mix of subjects.

Of course, Dunn’s statement begs many questions, including at what specific schools, and for what specific grade levels/student groups, and for what specific length of time, and under whose authority, and as documented where other than “just take John White’s word for it.”

But my personal favorite is, where did John White get this marvelous, catch-all certification, “English as part of a mix of subjects”?

I would like to view a copy of John White’s carte blance teaching certificate, and I would like to find out how to get my own. It apparently works no matter course subject or state. What a convenience!

On July 01, 2017, I submitted a public records request with CPS for the contracts it had with TFA from 2002 to 2007. The result included the following three contracts (2004-06), corresponding to the years that John White was TFA executive director, Chicago:

Teach_for_America_CPS  2004

Teach_for_America  CPS_2005

Teach_for_America  CPS_2006

I include the documents for those who wish to pore over them. In this post, I will point out only a couple of items.

First of all, TFA’s relationship with CPS was that of an independent contractor. There was no direct relationship between John White and CPS– and CPS made clear that the likes of John White was forbidden from implying as much (see page 4, “Independent Contractor”):

Agency (TFA) agrees that neither Agency nor its employees, staff or subcontractors shall represent themselves as employees or agents of the Board (CPS).

Now, one could argue that such a restriction applied only to the time period under contract. However, one could also argue that there is no time restriction and that John White should never have implied direct employment with CPS on his ed leader application– especially since he did not imply as much for his TFA time in New Jersey, which he clearly attributes to TFA on the application right below his CPS implication (see photo above).

A second point from the CPS-TFA contracts is that it makes barely a mention of mentoring; so, to hang an entire year of credit for teaching in any capacity, certificated or not, is quite the stretch. From page 7, “Exhibit A: Referral Services, Deliverables, Outcomes”:

Agency (TFA) will provide all referred and accepted teacher candidates with the mentoring, classroom observation, and other support and evaluation services consistent with the terms of its Certification Program [which entails being enrolled at Dominican University and which leads to an Illinois Alternative Initial Teaching Certificate].

Note that Lamar White et al. offer no documentation to support that John White himself actively mentored any specific TFA teacher candidate, much less any such mentoring after achieving any sort of certification to mentor.

Finally, so that readers might have a sense of just how absurd it is to suggest that being a TFA executive director is to be more teacher than administrator, I offer job descriptions for three TFA executive directors (Detroit, New Orleans, and Piedmont, NC) as posted on Linkedin and saved in the following Word docs:

TFA Executive Director Detroit

TFA Executive Director Greater New Orleans/ La. Delta

TFA Executive Director Piedmont, North Carolina

That’s right, folks: BESE member Kira Orange-Jones– who as of yet has not applied for a Louisiana ed leader certificate and who has not tried to claim that TFA executive director = teaching experience in an area of certification– is moving upward in the TFA hierarchy and is vacating her Louisiana TFA Greater New Orleans/ Louisiana Delta (GNO/LAD) exec post.

Qualifications at the center of the TFA GNO/LAD executive director (ED) doc:

Qualifications

Primary Responsibilities

Five key areas of focus are central to the GNO/LAD Executive Director role. S/he must:

Education

Partner with a broad set of local community leaders and organizations to define what the next phase of reform will look like to end educational inequity in Louisiana by

  • seeking and listening to discerning and diverse perspectives to formulate informed opinions to ensure that this vision is grounded in the region’s opportunities, needs, problems, and culture
  • acquiring firsthand community experience and perspectives to deepen insights and approaches
  • navigating and leveraging existing structures and relationships to gain support
  • acquiring knowledge of political and policy landscapes to deepen insights and approach
  • anticipating where conflicts may develop and surfacing, managing, and resolving conflict proactively and constructively
  • convening and mobilizing diverse groups of stakeholders – including staff, corps members, partner schools and alumni – to fight for educational equity
  • deepening our political capital and fundraising capacity to ensure that GNO/LAD maintains its meaningful position in the educational fabric of the community
  • identifying public relations opportunities which can maximize impact

Preserve and provide leadership deeply reflective of the GNO/LAD culture pillars by:

  • continuing to build and maintain a culture that is grounded in our regional culture pillars and our five core values: transformational change, leadership, team, diversity, and respect and humility
  • creating an environment that fosters and prioritizes diversity and inclusiveness
  • exemplifying our core values in all actions with all internal and external constituents
  • demonstrating adaptability in approaching and communicating with diverse audiences to share the story of GNO/LAD; building new alliances and partnerships; bridging gaps between communities, cultivating support; and inspiring action

Inspire, lead, and optimize the GNO/LAD team by:

  • attracting, hiring, and developing a team of diverse and talented staff members
  • ensuring proper infrastructure to maximize performance of people and resources toward regional and personal goals
  • effectively managing other executive/high-level staff members
  • coaching and developing regional staff members to exhibit strong cultural leadership skills and orientations
  • synthesizing and making meaning of a dynamic educational climate for staff, corps members, and alumni and enabling that meaning-making for others in order to foster leadership development and to catalyze collective action

Execute the fundamentals of not-for-profit leadership and management by:

  • developing a comprehensive multi-year strategic plan with outcomes and targets to achieve regional goals
  • cultivating and building a regional advisory board who will help maximize Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta’s impact, narrative, and sustainability in the region
  • focusing on significantly growing and diversifying a sustainable funding base that will include gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and districts
  • being responsible for a budget of approximately $7M
  • promoting new and strengthening existing relationships with public officials and organizations that are statewide in nature – ranging from district partners, higher education institutions, education non-profits, and civic/social justice organizations – to maximize our scale and impact

Serve effectively as a national leader for Teach For America by:

  • supporting the work of teacher leadership development and alumni impact to create a larger, more effective force of transformational teachers and leaders
  • leading with integrity in ambiguous and/or paradoxical situations
  • exercising good judgment when facing new challenges and viewing situations through multiple lenses to weigh options and consequences
  • constructing decision-making processes which balance timeliness with the need to engage multiple perspectives
  • serving as a contributing voice on public relations efforts to maximize impact
  • establishing national networks of education and community leaders to understand best practices in education reform and how to maximize those best practices in the local landscape
  • being the face and voice for TFA-GNO/LAD in national platforms

Requirements

TFA seeks a leader propelled by a palpable urgency to transform educational equity in Louisiana. Ideally, the successful candidate will possess a public speaking record that reflects an ability to engage and inspire diverse, local, and national audiences. The ideal candidate will also bring a developed, sophisticated understanding of the complexity of the local political climate of the region.

Additionally, The Next ED Must Have The Following Experience

  • Significant leadership experience (minimum of 10-15 years) with a verifiable track record of:
    • achieving excellence and successful outcomes leading a complex enterprise;
    • setting bold vision for impact and leading others to reach ambitious goals in support of that vision;
    • defining and leading others towards a culture of excellence;
    • managing individuals to goals and managing managers
  • Experience building and working in partnership with a Board of Directors
  • Demonstrated achievement in fundraising or ensuring financial sustainability of an organization, including an ability to mobilize people and to create champions to support our organizational mission
  • Experience navigating political processes at the state level, including district officials and board members
  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university

The next ED must have the following skills:

  • Highly-developed strategic and execution skills that allow him/her to manage systems in a complex environment
  • A suite of adaptive leadership skills that facilitate smart, disciplined, and timely decisions via multiple layers
  • The ability to seek, listen to, and discern diverse perspectives and to synthesize and make meaning of a dynamic educational context and then apply that knowledge to the regional leadership, vision, and direction
  • Proven ability to lead collaboratively and to share responsibilities for outcomes
  • Tolerance for ambiguity and conflict
  • Outstanding interpersonal skills and desire to develop deep relationships with a variety of constituents
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

The next ED must have the following personal characteristics:

  • Strong alignment with, passion for, and commitment to the mission and values of TFA
  • A level of maturity and gravitas that engenders respect and facilitates strong partnerships with senior-level staff members, high-profile community stakeholders and civic leaders, staff members, corps members, and alumni
  • Commitment to exploring issues of race, class, and privilege
  • Sense of urgency around accomplishing goals and objectives
  • Humility, self-awareness, and a commitment to personal growth
  • The ability to work some evenings and weekends, travel within the region daily, and attend meetings in various U.S. cities quarterly.

Reporting Relationships

The ED will manage a team of more than 30 regional staff members and s/he will report to the (emerging) Senior Vice President Regional Field Executive, Kira Orange Jones. Further, TFA is shifting toward a more decentralized regional structure and, as such, the ED will be charged with further exploring board structure and governance and, in turn, s/he will need to cultivate and build a board that represents the community in which we work.

TFA executive director:

Not a teaching position, even with fingers crossed.

fingers crossed

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

 

 

 

 

4 Comments
  1. Lamar has not responded with anything other than immediate silence the my inquiry as to why he decided to write not only on support of John White, but writing it as an attack piece on two people, who like him, are proficient researchers. Me thinks he protests too much!

  2. Jack permalink

    This saga just continues.

    When John White listed “Chicago Public Schools” as his employer during his Chicago years — implicitly claiming that that’s the entity hired him and paid him and had its name printed on White’s paychecks — he lied.

    John White’s employer during his Chicago stint was “Teach for America.” That’s the entity that… once again … hired him and paid him and had its name printed on White’s paychecks.

    If not, then White should be able to produce copies of his paychecks from those years with “Chicago Public School” written on them.

    Let him name the Chicago Public School(s) where he worked and the Chicago Public School principal(s) under whom he worked.

    Let him produce his employment contract with Chicago Public Schools.

    Let him provide the names of teacher colleagues under whom he worked — the teacher next door, the teacher down the hall, etc.

    He can’t do any of those things, because during his Chicago years, he worked for Teach for America, which means his claim that he worked as a teacher in the Chicago Public School system was a lie.

    In his applicaitio, John White falsified his work record. PERIOD .

  3. anon permalink

    Yes. By John White logic, I can take that year I lived out of state, subbing as I could, and use that “mix of related subjects” for all kinds of certification! High school art, 5th grade math, kindergarten, even special ed! I probably had more actual student contact, too.

    Certification means something, or at least it used to. John White has dismantled all professional aspects of the LDOE, and it fits their Broad narrative to play fast and loose with the rules. Look at the rewrites for teacher certification (BESE did this last fall) and you could cry.

    As for Lamar, I’m hoping he hasn’t fallen under the DFER spell. It would be just like those slick scam artists to offer to fund and/or staff his new website.

  4. confused permalink

    Interesting. BESE won’t count, for pay purposes, a Masters in Administration from an out of state accredited university because it is NOT related to my job as an educator. The classes mirror those for any administrative educational masters degree. However, they count this load of horse manure for White? I can see why several teacher friends from other states feel Louisiana really has no certification requirements that mean anything for teachers. Why won’t Gov. Edwards replace him? What is he afraid of? That if he hires someone with actual education credentials and experience that person will tell him the truth about what has happened and is happening to Louisiana public schools????? Thank you Dr. Schneider for another great post full of evidence of White’s lack of qualifications and lies at a time when evidence is being attacked by those with alternative facts, twists of meaning and false interpretations!

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