John White, the next Superintendent of New Orleans?

UPDATE: his appointment was just announced; see Times-Picayune, with quotes from MBP Stringer, Irene Kaufman and me. My condolences to New Orleans.

John White, NYC Deputy Chancellor, is reportedly being considered as the next Superintendent of New Orleans schools.

White led the DOE’s efforts to expand charters, and to co-locate them in already existing schools. He is also a former TFA-er, and a graduate of the Broad Superintendent Academy, which has trained countless controversial superintendents, including many that have received no-confidence votes, like Jean-Claude Brizard of Rochester, and the scandal-ridden Maria Goodloe-Johnson, recently dismissed from Seattle schools.

In the views of many public school parents, he has consistently ignored our concerns about overcrowding and inequitable distribution of resources and space. See this account, for example, of the proposal to place the Hebrew Language Academy charter school within Marine Park middle school; here are also videos of the highly contentious hearings.

During the proceedings, he called the 150 children who would attend the Hebrew charter school the “jewels” of the DOE, which hugely offended the parents of the 1100 children currently attending Marine Park MS, as well as the community’s elected officials, including Rep. Anthony Weiner.

White also supported the creation of a middle school called “Quest to Learn” based on video games, despite the opposition of District 2 parents and the Community Education Council. He promised it would not go into an existing school building but that it would find its own building. That never happened, of course. Instead it was inserted into the Bayard Rustin building, eliminating precious gym space for students at the schools already housed in the building. His refusal to consult with parents and the CEC led to a lawsuit.

More recently, White has been pushing the rapid and costly expansion of the Izone, or online learning, to 400 schools, despite the fact that it has little or no research to back it up, as today’s NY Times points out. Yet he wants to spend $500 million on technology next year to make this possible. As quoted in this recent report on the Izone, White said, “We are trying to make achievement the constant and adults the variable.”

It is no wonder that White would want to leave NYC, considering the negative feelings he has aroused; and the fact that approval ratings for Bloomberg’s handling of education is at an all-time low of 28%. Despite all the money spent and often wasted, achievement has lagged, especially among black and Hispanic students.

John White also led the campaign to close schools. Below are videos of public hearings at which he presided concerning the closing of Jamaica HS in Queens and Metropolitan Corporate Academy in Brooklyn.

Jamaica HS Closing Hearing: James Eterno Presents the Real Data from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

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