Louisiana Reformers Make A Miscalculation. Or Did They?

On Monday, May 8th, I delivered the petition shown below to the office of Senate President, John Alario. The petition, signed by 1045 citizens from every corner of Louisiana, was copied to Governor John Bel Edwards; Senate Education Committee Chairman, Dan Morrish; Senate Government Affairs Chairman, Karen Carter-Peterson; the Senate Counsel; the Advocate and NOLA.com.

Senate President, John Alario.

On Tuesday, May 9th, I went to the State Capital building to meet with LDOE and Rep. Vincent Pierre to discuss a bill that Pierre authored on my behalf. During the course of that day, I spoke with no less than 10 individuals from the various offices that received a copy of the petition. They each acknowledge receipt of the petition and offered encouraging words and praise for the work that I had put into researching the issue, at hand. It wasn’t until I asked a Senate staffer if she thought that President Alario would respond to the petition and notify BESE of the vacancy? Her response was, “It isn’t a matter of whether, or not, he wants to. It is a process that is laid out in statute, and he intends to uphold the statute.”

“It isn’t a matter of whether, or not, he wants to. It is a process that is laid out in statute, and he intends to uphold the statute.”-Senate Staff

Since this particular journey began, several weeks ago, a few of the reformers have commented, both directly and indirectly, that I was on a witch hunt, and that my blatant attempts to have John White removed are baseless. Here is the reality. I make no secret about wanting White gone. I say it in a much nicer way than many others. That is not the issue in question. The issue is that a basic protection of the democratic process has been breached in an attempt to keep someone in position. The reason for this is a lack of a 2/3 majority vote from BESE members to reappoint White as superintendent. From my position, it seems that rather than trying to fly this under the radar for as long as possible, they should have been lobbying the other BESE members, reaching out hands to try to come to agreements, and many other things. Instead, White and his supporters have forged ahead refusing to comply with requests to include all stakeholders in the development of the state ESSA plan. Why is that? Do they think they have the upper hand? Do they plan to challenge the statute? Most likely, they do. If they do, it will be shut down quickly. Here’s why.

  1. In the continuation of RS 24:14, it also states that if the appointee refuses to vacate the office, the Senate President shall notify the courts to removed them.
  2. If the appointee chooses to challenge the removal, the grievance is not with the Senate, but with the appointing official that failed to reappoint.
  3. Any business conducted by the appointee after the office is declared vacant is null and void.

There still remains the possibility that they are completely aware of all of this. It would explain why, after four years, White decided to credential himself. It would explain why there has been no mention of appointing, reappointing, or replacing White and no intention to even approach the subject, even after repeated requests to do so. It is likely that White has already planned his exit.

Either way, a change is on the horizon. Some have expressed concern that this only means that they will endeavor to appoint someone just like White. Fear not. If they don’t have the votes to reappoint White, they don’t have the votes to appoint someone like him. Perhaps, it would be a good opportunity for the reformers to open up to discussions with us in order to find a superintendent that we can all agree on. One that will build up the good parts of school choice, redesign and rebuild our traditional public schools, keep the federal government out of our business, and do all of this without defacing and demeaning the teaching profession.

4 thoughts on “Louisiana Reformers Make A Miscalculation. Or Did They?”

  1. John White long ago lost the privilege of being asked “nicely” to leave by virtue of his efforts to destroy public education, the teaching profession and, most importantly, some of the most important years of our children’s lives. The success I believe you will enjoy in achieving an end to White’s tenure here will be a result of your keen perception in uncovering the statute that cannot be ignored and BESE’s failure to find a loophole or to achieve concensus for a majority vote to keep him before the time expired. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/nice

    I learned many years ago that justice doesn’t prevail because “Louisiana Believes” it will. It prevails only when individuals take responsibility for demanding it and when they fight any way they know how w determination and persistence. Speaking truth to power may not always be perceived as “nice” but is often a necessity. I applaud the work you have done and your style. For all those who have raised their voices in order to be heard and have minced no words to make their positions clear for the last 7 years, the victory is every bit as sweet. The battle won’t be over when White is gone, but the door will be open for fresh faces to step up and finish the job of restoring professionalism and effective education principles to Louisiana public education. Let’s hope this law is enforced and quickly.

    1. Thank you, Lee, for your support. If it weren’t for your generous sharing, I might not have stumbled upon some of the discoveries I’ve made in the last two years. When this chapter closes, we will fight to be heard in the next.

  2. Many, many thanks to you, Ganey, and to you, Lee, for your tireless efforts to support public education. Like those who police or fight fires, public school teachers serve every day. We do not choose our students. We do not turn away students. We stand and serve. And most of us do the job of teaching with a healthy dose of love for our students…who are not always lovable on a daily basis. Time for new leadership and fresh thinking. The reformathon failed on multiple levels in Louisiana as it has in other states. May Mr. White find employment elsewhere… in a different field.

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