Superintendent’s Contract: Sects, Lies and Videotape.
When John Bel Edwards won the gubernatorial runoff election in November 2015, teachers and parents across the state of Louisiana sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the exit of State Superintendent of Education, John White. Edwards, after all, was very vocal about his desire to see White replaced by a “Louisiana educator.” Here we are 15 months after Edwards took office and White’s contract expired. Alas, White is still here.
Shortly after the November election, Mercedes Schneider wrote in her blog, John White’s Contract, about the anticipation of what was to come. She talks about the different ways that White could be ousted which range from a BESE vote to various gubernatorial actions. She includes a quote from former BESE member, Jane Smith, “No matter the composition of BESE, never underestimate the power of a newly-elected governor.”
Most people continue to blame Gov. Edwards for White remaining as superintendent. The truth is, above the table, the governor has little ability to select and/or dispose of an appointed superintendent. Though it has been described as a member of the governor’s cabinet, the superintendent isn’t appointed by the governor. He is appointed by BESE with a super majority (2/3) vote. The current BESE make up consists of three gubernatorial appointees, one John White opposer elected by the people, and 7 elected members who enjoyed the financial support of special interest groups who, along with their supporters, worship John White in a fashion that one would associate with a religious sect.
Below the table, there are a number of options available to the governor that range from slash the budget and cancelling contracts to issuing executive orders and making White’s life miserable. Some of the actions available could be viewed as a unilateral move and politically motivated. While you can’t ever separate a governor’s actions from political motivations, it isn’t likely that any of these options would be used. It is much more effective if the above the table options were successful, but there is a hindrance to that happening.
It has been known since January 2016 that White’s contract expired. If you do a google search for “John White contract month to month,” you will find a number of news articles that discuss this fact. During the first half of 2016, there were only two full board BESE meetings. In January, the newly elected board said good-bye to the previously appointed BESE members and established the new officers of the new board. Jim Garvey was installed as BESE president, and it was his first meeting as president.
In February, there was no meeting because of Mardi Gras. The March meeting, in theory, should have been the meeting to discuss the superintendent’s contract; however, it was not on the agenda. It was at this meeting, the second general meeting of the new members, that a finance report prepared by White for the legislature was challenged by appointee Doris Voitier. Her challenge was backed Superintendent’s Contract: Sects, Lies and Videotape. – Educate Louisiana: