Wednesday, January 11, 2012

BESE Names New Education Superintendent Despite Words of Caution from Education Stakeholder Groups

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved Governor Bobby Jindal's pick for Louisiana's new superintendent of schools. John White will take on the department of education’s top spot and leave his post as the head of the Recovery School District just months after he arrived in Louisiana. While several education stakeholders showed up at the appointment meeting to argue why the decision was the wrong move, the board still moved forward with their selection.

“I believe that John White is a very charismatic, kind-hearted and courteous fellow,” said LAE President Joyce Haynes. “Unfortunately, now we will watch him struggle as he makes the changes that Governor Jindal wants.”

Changes such as moving forward with more charters, the use of vouchers and the flawed value-added teacher evaluation model brought forth by Louisiana law ACT 54.

Haynes feels as though educators have been disrespected once again by BESE since the board did not allow for a transparent, open selection process for those who could have met the qualifications to apply for the position.

“We’re definitely disappointed that the process - which is set forth in law - was not followed,” Haynes said. “This is typical Louisiana ‘poli-tricks’ – using our students as the reason for the rush in appointment, rather than doing the right thing.”

Newly inducted BESE District 3 Board Member Lottie Beebe was the only voice of dissent on the 11-member panel. Beebe joined in with LAE calling for nationwide search after questioning White's credentials and level of experience.

White's appointment has been widely anticipated since elections for the board this past fall ensured he would have the eight-vote supermajority needed to become the next head of the state Department of Education.

White spoke briefly and thanked the board for their vote: "I take extremely seriously the responsibility that has been up upon me and welcome it."

White takes over for Ollie Tyler, who stepped in to serve as acting superintendent after Paul Pastorek stepped down last May. His entire pay package has not yet been disclosed, but his annual salary will be $275,000.

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