The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have voted overwhelmingly in favor of making former head of the state's Recovery School District superintendent of schools. Despite only being in New Orleans for a few months, White was Governor Bobby Jindal's pick, and comes at the start of Jindal's big year of reform for the Louisiana education system.
White's appointment has been widely anticipated since elections for the board this past fall ensured he would have the eight-vote supermajority needed, writes Andrew Vanacore at the Times-Picayune.
However, critics have condemned the state's approach to reforming schools. The only board member to dissent on the 11-member panel was Lottie Beebe.
"[Beebe] questioned White's credentials and level of experience and called for a full national search, a position echoed by the state's two major teachers unions and the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, an umbrella group that also includes school board members, superintendents and others," writes Vanacore.
But Beebe stood alone with her doubts. Nearly every other board member praised White's work in the Recovery District and "his ability to bring disparate groups together and his track record around the country".
The board rejected calls for a longer search process, saying that efforts to improve schools needed to move quickly — especially as the governor and the state Legislature gear up for what's expected to be a major reform effort during Jindal's second term.
New board member Holly Boffy called her first conversation with White "memorable and inspiring," adding:
He "understands what it's like to be in the classroom while also having a vision for what Louisiana's school system can look like."
White spoke briefly and thanked the board for their vote:
"I take extremely seriously the responsibility that has been up upon me and welcome it."
White's appointment comes after Ollie Tyler's period as acting superintendent after Paul Pastorek stepped down last May.