Every year, LSU football coach Les Miles searches nationwide to recruit the best talent in order to compete for the national championship. Likewise, Sean Payton seeks out those in the NFL draft that can help the New Orleans Saints win the Super Bowl.
We all want them both to win, and we think nothing of the fact that Matt Flynn is from Tyler, Texas, or that Drew Brees is from Austin, Texas. If they can win championships, sign them up.
Well, Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Superintendent Paul Pastorek recruited one of the top prospects in education to head the Recovery School District, replacing Paul Vallas, who has done a great job for the past four years.
John White is the new “quarterback” who will run these 110 schools. He previously served as a deputy chancellor in New York City’s Department of Education, which serves 1 million students. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported his leaving New York for the Louisiana post. The Times said he was in charge of “talent, labor and innovation.” The story also noted that White was “overseeing the iZone, a network of 80 schools experimenting with online learning and different ways to manage classrooms.”
If you are wondering if this 35-year-old can handle the pressure, keep in mind his former boss, Joel Klein, describes White as “unflappable.”
Pastorek says, “John’s proven ability to build partnerships with diverse groups and under difficult situations is crucial.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says of White, “New Orleans is very lucky to get someone of his talent and dedication.”
Marc Sternberg, a deputy chancellor in New York who has worked with White, but who grew
up in Baton Rouge (his family owned Goudchaux’s), said, “Paul Pastorek has accomplished many great things in his tenure, but getting John White may be his greatest gift to the people of Louisiana. There is not a more qualified, visionary, inspiring urban school leader in the country than John. Having been a star teacher John has lived the reality that far too many public school children know: too many of our schools are broken. As a master of the reform here in New York, John is unafraid of the tough decisions necessary to fix that. He will not rest until every family is served and every school fulfills its promise.”
John White seems ready for the challenge and told The New York Times New Orleans represents “one of the most remarkable efforts at public education in the country.” He added, “Tremendous progress has been made in New Orleans, and a long trend of challenges has been replaced with a long string of successes. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue those successes.”
John White may not be from Louisiana, but he comes to us with enormous talent and promise. Like non-natives Drew Brees and Matt Flynn, he is committed to helping Louisiana win big—in the classroom instead of on the gridiron. What he could win for our children is a lot more important than football trophies. Let’s cheer him on.
FOCUS ON BESE BOARD
If education is truly a priority in our state, then our “state school board” should be important as well. Eight of the members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) are elected. We need strong reformers to be elected this fall—not pretenders. The teachers unions, the Louisiana School Boards Association and the school superintendents association are ganging up to regain control. That would be a disaster for our children and our future. It’s time to get involved.
ROEMER ON THE ROAD
When former Louisiana governor Buddy Roe-mer first ran for governor in 1987, he set his own limits on fundraising—and he surprised everyone when he finished first. After that victory, he made it the law. He is at it again, aiming to change politics as he establishes an exploratory committee for the Republican nomination for president. He has limited his own donors to gifts of $100 each. His slogan is “free to lead,” and he has taken his message—which he can deliver as powerfully as any politician in America—to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.
Most folks count Roemer as a long shot, but he loves the role of the underdog. Roemer is the smartest of the candidates and when he’s on stage with the others, they better watch out. (Folks in Iowa are still talking about his first appearance in March, where he got a standing ovation.) The next forum will be in South Carolina on May 5, televised on FOX. If you want to keep up with Roemer as he travels, visit buddyroemer.com.