Divided Board Hands Glowing Review to Controversial State Chief

By Daarel Burnette II — August 17, 2017 2 min read
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John White, Louisiana’s longtime and convtroversial superintendent who is working on a month-to-month contract, got a positive review from board members yesterday.

The review came the week that the U.S. Department of Education approved the state’s accountability plan under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The state’s district superintendents and principals made a unified attempt to block that plan from being submitted. They said it places the state’s grade-based accountability system on steroids and is too dependent on test scores. They’re also afraid that it will fold an unneccessarily high number of the state’s schools into its lowest performance categories.

After the board barely approved the plan, White turned the plan in without Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ signature, one of the few states to do so (the law gives governors 30 days to review plans but their signature is not required).

White was hired by the governor-appointed board under former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. When Bel Edwards, a Democrat, replaced Jindal in January, he hired several new board members, but there are not enough of those members for a vote to oust White. In recent months, White has been operating on a month-to-month contract, a process many in the state have argued is illegal.

Gov. Edwards said last month that he thinks White is serving illegally and is considering filing a lawsuit to oust him.

Meanwhile, White has to convince the state’s thousands of educators to buy into the new accountability plan. Earlier this summer, White’s department presented to thousands of educators during a teacher’s summit the details to the new plan, which includes new metrics, indicators and professional development.

Wednesday’s job performance review was conducted behind closed doors and no review documents were shared with the public, according to the Associated Press.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.