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John White announces resignation as State Superintendent

Staff Writer
Plaquemine Post South
Plaquemine Post South

John White announced yesterday that he will step down from his role as Louisiana's State Superintendent of Education, a position he has held since 2012. The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) will immediately begin the process of selecting a new State Superintendent.

"Over the last eight years, Louisiana has made great strides under Superintendent White's leadership in carrying out the vision of the Board," said Dr. Holly Boffy, BESE Vice President. "The development and implementation of Louisiana's ESSA Plan has been a vibrant collaborative experience that inspires great teaching and encourages effective learning, while aiming for constant growth and development for all students. The Board thanks him for his support in spearheading this critical work and for his dedicated and tireless service to the families, students, and educators of our state."

Superintendent White's resignation will be effective March 11, 2020. In the coming days, BESE will convene a special meeting in Baton Rouge to discuss the process and timeframe for selecting his replacement. The Board appoints the position of State Superintendent by a two-thirds vote of its total membership.

Boffy emphasized the Board's commitment to provide stability and continuity during this time of transition in an effort to ensure that students are prepared for the 21st Century, as well as to build upon the positive momentum and progress of our students and schools.

"Louisiana's plan to prepare all students for success in college and careers is a strong one, and our Board looks forward to continuing the considerable recent progress that has been made regarding early childhood efforts."

During Superintendent White's tenure, Louisiana's high school graduation rate has climbed 9.1 percent to an all-time high of 81.4 percent, compared to the national growth of 4.6 percentage points during the same period. Students' college and career credential attainment and TOPS eligibility also currently stand at record highs. The number of students earning Advanced Placement college credits has increased by 167 percent, and the number of students earning a college-going ACT score of at least 18 has increased by 7,397 since 2012, among the most improved in the nation.

"John is a champion for innovation and positive change, and he provided that focus for Louisiana at a time when it was most needed," said outgoing BESE President Dr. Gary Jones. "We will come to fully realize the impact of his work in future years. I thank him for his commitment and service, particularly in the area of early childhood development, where needed improvements have been made to the benefit of our state's youngest learners and their families."

In the past eight years, considerable reforms to improve K-12 education have been implemented and several nationally recognized initiatives have been introduced, including:

--the stakeholder-driven process to develop and implement higher academic standards, ensuring that Louisiana maintains strong expectations for teaching and learning that are aligned with college and workplace demands;

--improvements to the state's education accountability system to make it more ambitious and equitable by accounting for student growth and raising the bar for what constitutes an A-level school;

--Jump Start -- Louisiana's career and technical education program that enables students to obtain industry-based credentials while still in high school -- which has become a national model for preparing students for high-wage, high-demand careers;

--the nationally recognized "Believe & Prepare" teacher preparation program which offers aspiring teachers a full year residency under an expert mentor and a competency-based curriculum to ensure that they enter the classroom equipped for success; and

--the establishment of a strong, statewide Early Childhood Care and Education Network of all publicly funded childcare, Head Start, and pre-K sites, providing a unified quality rating system, specialized training and instructional tools.

The date of the BESE special meeting to discuss filling the State Superintendent position will be announced within the week. At the meeting, the Board is expected to address the search process, candidate criteria, anticipated timeline and related activities.

BESE is the administrative policymaking body for elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana. The Board sets key education initiatives and works to outline an education agenda to achieve continuous improvement of public education as measured by student and school achievement.

Contributed by BESE