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La. State Superintendent John White Resigns

January 8, 2020

On January 08, 2020, Louisiana state superintendent John White submitted his letter of resignation to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

In it, White states, “I write to advise you… I will be vacating the position March 11, 2020, and to recommend that the board identify a new state superintendent.”

White’s resignation letter comes five days before the second inauguration of Louisiana governor, John Bel Edwards, who has wanted White gone since 2015.

The complication was that in Louisiana, the governor submits her/his preference for state superintendent to BESE, and the board usually votes on the governor’s preference. However, the governor does not control the ability to terminate the state school superintendent. BESE does. And since 2015, BESE has lacked a majority wishing to oust White. BESE also lacked the supermajority (8 out of 11 votes) to issue White a new contract. So, BESE did not have the votes to renew White’s contract (though 7 out of 11 BESE members apparently wanted to), and the governor could not force a termination, which left Louisiana taxpayers continuing to foot White’s $275K salary for another four years as White became a month-to-month employee.

Apparently, there has been some behind-the-scenes negotiating to send White on his way, likely contingent upon Edwards being elected to a second term, and part of that negotiation may have included White’s agreeing to formally resign prior to the seating of the next BESE board (which happens on January 13, 2020).

One reason I believe White’s exit is the result of negotiation is that the newly-elected BESE might have enough White-sympathetic votes to grant him a second contract against the governor’s will. However, White’s announcing his exit only days prior to the seating of the 2020 BESE board bespeaks planning that will not pit another BESE majority on one side of White and the governor on the other.

A second reason I believe that some negotiation took place is that even though White submitted his letter of resignation on January 08, 2020, he is not leaving (at least on paper) until March. There is no reason for White to stick around– if he has another job lined up– and this does not seem to be the case. So, a couple more months of taxpayer money in White’s otherwise-unemployed pockets sure comes in handy for a market-based ed reformer seeking his next gig.

In June 2018, White co-founded his own “high school-to-career” nonprofit, Propel America, with a fellow Teach for America (TFA) alum– apparently without discussing the issue with BESE. In December 2019, former assistant superintendent of policy and governmental affairs, Erin Bendily, became Propel America’s full time executive director.

What becomes of White’s nonprofit remains to be seen. However, it seems unlikely that he will be able to profit from it to the tune of the $275K he’s become used to by March 2020.

With White’s exit, the Louisiana Department of Education will likely experience an exodus of TFA and other ed-reform employees and the subsequent hiring of individuals actually trained to hold careers in the positions for which they have been hired. I also expect that the public will learn of the condition of data, records, contracts, and other information compromised under White’s eight years of control.

And I expect that John Bel Edwards will choose as Louisiana’s next superintendent an individual with an established, Louisiana career in ed-reform-predating, traditional public education.

john white 5

John White

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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?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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From → BESE, John White, LDOE, TFA

9 Comments
  1. Ding-dong, the chief has fled! Which old chief! The wicked chief!
    Ding-dong, the wicked chief has fled.
    Wake up, you sleepy state, throw out the Deformer slate!
    Wake up, now. The wicked chief has fled!

    He’s gone where the goblins go, to some think tank, below, below.
    Yo ho! Yo ho, yo ho, yo ho!
    End the tests, the charters too. Best for you and you and you.
    Ding-dong the wicked chief has fled!

  2. DanG! permalink

    Is it possible to examine and perhaps fix the procedures that allowed this tumor to remain on the back of Louisiana public education for so long?

  3. Linda permalink

    Presumably, John White will be welcome at the Reform Leaders Summit in NOLA, June 2020.
    Similar to Gates-funded Pahara, a cohort of “leaders” is chosen for the Summit. They attend seminars “facilitated by policy makers, education entrepreneurs, funders”, etc.

    The Summit, under the auspices of the University of Notre Dame’s ACE, is recommended by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The entire Catholic community should be encouraged to advocate for parental school choice…” BTW, Catholics are almost 20% of the U.S. population with Louisiana, a southern anomaly due to the heavy influence of Catholicism. Catholic numbers are in decline overall.
    The Reform group’s preferred funding for schools appears to be tax credits, a plan consistent with others like CAP and the Koch network. The method defunds government while facilitating privatization.
    Mary Landrieu continues to promote DFER.

    The fact that 66% of Americans support separation of church and state means nothing to authoritarians.
    The Catholic church changed policy from its prior embrace of pluralism and democracy, in order to be politically active on various issues. Many of the state Catholic Conferences spell out the agenda and the achievement means, at their sites.

  4. Reblogged this on David R. Taylor-Thoughts on Education and commented:
    Will there be a giant celebration party?

  5. Linda permalink

    An interesting correlation – the bishops/archbishops who signed the Manhattan Declaration and, ground zero cities for privatization. Seven of the 11 dioceses represented on the Declaration,
    Wash. D.C., Detroit, Denver, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Phoenix.

    • Linda permalink

      Addendum- 15 bishops/archbishops signed. They included those listed and Newark, N.J., NYC, St. Paul /Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Wichita, Colorado Springs, Kansas City, and Portland, Maine.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Louisiana: John White Submits His Resignation | Diane Ravitch's blog
  2. Louisiana’s White Elephant – Educate Louisiana
  3. CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST – Dad Gone Wild

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