La. Supt. John White’s Teaching Experience with Chicago Public Schools

La. Supt. John White
La. Supt. John White

It seems that so much surrounding Louisiana state superintendent John White is, well, muddy.

On June 23, 2017, former Louisiana state superintendent Paul Pastorek published an op-ed that the Shreveport Times entitled, “Pastorek: Why John White Should Not Get the Boot.” In his op-ed, Pastorek makes the following comment:

It is the exclusive province of the BESE to select its superintendent and there is a substantial majority of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that support the superintendent. In my view, that’s a good thing.​

Note that the “substantial majority” is at best 7 out of 11 BESE members– not the supermajority of 8 needed to reappoint White.

Note also that in April 2011, Pastorek had brazenly published a press release announcing White as the new Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent before BESE even voted on White’s appointment– which caused some embarrassment for Pastorek when he had to admit his premature maneuverings to Louisiana House Appropriations Committee chair, Jim Fannin.

Still, White became RSD superintendent in May 2011 and then flew to the top seat to replace Pastorek as state superintendent in January 2012. RSD was just a temporary stopping point for White. His planned destination was the state superintendent’s post.

White had been state superintendent in Louisiana for several years when he applied for the Louisiana licensing credentials that would allow him to become a school assistant principal or principal and, beyond that, a district superintendent.

White had never been an assistant principal or principal; as for his seven months as RSD superintendent, Pastorek arranged to have him ushered in absent the required certification.

But by late 2015, facing the prospect of a governor who openly did not support him and a BESE election on which his reappointment rested on securing 8 out of 11 seats, White apparently saw the need to obtain at least the appearance of legitimate credentials.

Louisiana offers three administrative credentials. Levels 1 and 2 require at most three years of teaching experience in an area of certification. Levels 1 and 2 are sufficient for one to become an assistant principal or principal. (For more on La ed leader cert, see this post.)

John White has three years of teaching experience in New Jersey in high school English (1999-2002). For two of the three years (2000-2002), he held a New Jersey teaching certificate at the time that he taught. The documentation is part of White’s application for Louisiana ed leader certification.

However, one could argue that all three years fall under the necessary “teaching experience in area of certification” necessary for ed leader certification levels 1 and 2.

But for ed leader level 3– the certification that one needs in order to legitimately become an assistant superintendent or superintendent in Louisiana– one needs five years of teaching experience in an area of certification.

On his application, White wrote that he had two years of teaching experience with Chicago Public Schools from 2004-2006 in the position of “teacher coach and mentor.”

John White’s listing of his Chicago Public Schools *teaching experience*

White included no supporting documentation to prove that he was employed by Chicago Public Schools, period. He did include a letter from Teach for America stating that he held the position of executive director, Chicago region, from 2002-2007.

John White offers no proof of employment with Chicago Public Schools, much less teaching experience in an area of certification from 2004-2006, to support the information he provided on his application.

Yet BESE lets it slide.

I pressed this point in a June 11-12, 2017, email exchange with BESE executive director, Shan Davis, who sent a chart supposedly explaining that White met the criteria of five years teaching experience for level 3. However, the charter omits the criteria, “five years teaching experience in area of certification.

Too, without offering an inkling of verifying White’s claim of employment with Chicago Public Schools, the chart on White’s supposedly meeting the criteria blindly states:

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

In order for White to be given credit for anything more than three years of teaching experience, BESE must ignore the legal stipulation “in area of certification.”

They must also ignore the fact that White intentionally tried to make it appear not that he had five years with Teach for America as an executive director but that two of those years involved working directly for the Chicago Public Schools.

So, I took it upon myself to do what BESE failed to do:

I submitted a public records request to Chicago Public Schools regarding White’s alleged employment there.

I also searched to see if White had ever held an Illinois teaching certificate.

FOIA Request :: N003126-062117
From: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center
To: deutsch29
Date: Wed, Jun 21, 2017 9:15 am
Dear Mercedes:
Thank you for your interest in Chicago Public Schools. Your FOIA request has been received and is being processed. Your FOIA Center reference number for tracking purposes is: N003126-062117
You have requested the following records: I am seeking to verify that John Charles White was employed by Chicago Public Schools as a teacher coach and mentor from 2004-2006, or if the Chicago Public Schools employed John Charles White from 2004-2006 in any capacity. Furthermore, if John Charles White was not employed by CPS as a in any capacity, I seek formal documentation from CPS verifying as much. John Charles White was born in November 1975 and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1999). He taught in New Jersey (Jersey City School District) from 1999-2002. Thank you.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) responds to all public records requests in accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. ...

On June 28, 2017, I received the following response:

Non-Commercial FOIA Request :: N003126-062117
From: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center
To: deutsch29
Date: Wed, Jun 28, 2017 10:22 am
— Please respond above this line —
06/28/2017
Dr. Mercedes Schneider
Dear Mercedes:
RE:  Chicago Public Schools FOIA Request N003126-062117
Thank you for using the Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center.
We have conducted a search for records responsive to this request. No records, responsive to your request were located.
If you have any questions, please contact me at 773-553-1602.
Sincerely,
Annie Righi
FOIA Assistant
Chicago Public Schools

How many years of teaching experience in any area of certification does John White have as an employee of Chicago Public Schools?

NONE.

As for that Illinois teaching certificate search, the query “john white” produced no hits for “John C. White.” Furthermore, all five hits for “John White” (no middle initial) yielded the result, “no records found.”

John White has no teaching experience in an area of certification in Chicago Public Schools. Furthermore, John White has never held a teaching license in Illinois. Yet he would misrepresent part of his Teach for America time as employment for Chicago Public Schools.

BESE’s willingness to overlook (indeed, sidestep) these facts is shameful, and it leaves the board and White open for litigation from Chicago Public Schools.

Yes, Chicago Public Schools: You should sue White for misrepresenting employment with you and also sue La.’s BESE for being complicit in the lie.

As for Louisiana: Every Louisiana local school board needs to know that John White has only three years of classroom teaching experience. Only three.

Even as Paul Pastorek tries to resell White in the Shreveport op-eds, appearing legit to local school boards seems to be White’s BESE-enabled Plan B.

***

Originally posted 06-29-17 at deutsch29.wordpress.com.

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