Peter Cook with an in-depth story about the attempts to remove ed reform warrior John White as Louisiana's ed super:
Ed Supe John White rode a pro-reform tide that lifted Louisiana's public schools — but now the tide is turning
Can ed reformer John White survive as Louisiana's schools chief? It's a question with national implications
"I do not believe John White can stay as Superintendent of Education while I am Governor. And to the extent that I can control that, that will not happen. Because I do not find him to be honest and credible when he deals with the legislature and other members of the public in Louisiana."
Those words, from John Bel Edwards, the man that polls say will likely win Louisiana's gubernatorial runoff this Saturday, might come as a surprise to those who follow education policy in the Bayou State.
After all, by almost every measure, John White's tenure as Louisiana's state superintendent of education should be judged a success. The policies White has championed over the past four years have resulted in real academic gains for students, particularly for those from traditionally underserved backgrounds.
Last year, Louisiana's four-year graduation rate hit an all-time high of 74.6 percent. This past spring, a record number of Louisiana students earned Advanced Placement test scores high enough to make them eligible for college credit. Plus, the number of African-American students earning a college-going ACT score has jumped 44% — from 5,202 to 7,287 students — since White assumed his post back in 2012.
With such results, one might expect that Edwards and others politicians across the state would be applauding White's stated desire to remain on the job after Gov. Bobby Jindal leaves office at the end of the year.
Instead, White now finds himself fighting to stay on in Baton Rouge, thanks to an odd alliance of Tea Party politicians, teachers unions, and their supporters, who have waged an increasingly coordinated campaign to malign White's character and ultimately remove him as state superintendent.
While White's travails in many ways reflect the broader fight over the direction of public education nationally, Louisiana's vanguard position in the education reform movement gives White's precarious situation added significance. The big question in the minds of reformers both inside and outside of Louisiana is whether White and the policies he has championed will survive — and what that means for the reform movement as a whole.