In the past I would write posts about John White’s lies. However his lies have become so commonplace (and obvious) that eventually the public stopped paying attention. It was generally accepted that if John White’s lips were moving, he was lying. (“White Lies” is how they are frequently referred to online.) However John White is living proof that it’s difficult to lie all the time. Invariably you are going to let some truth out to someone, somewhere. Because this happens so infrequently the times he tells the truth are perhaps the most interesting now.
Take for instance this clip I made from the December 1st 2015 BESE meeting where John White explains to the public why he has chosen to authorize charter schools in public school districts that don’t want them, with plenty of options, choices and under financial strain, but is refusing to authorize them in New Orleans, which is 100% charter controlled.
Louisiana State Superintendent John White:
“If you were running a traditional school system you would never open a new school when you have an enrollment deficit. And here we have a charter system. So on one hand you’re called to authorize charter schools. On the other hand [RSD] superintendent Dobard and I must determine what the right enrollment balance is, just like a traditional system.
I will tell you this type 2 charter school, and I have told this to Dr. Triplett, cannot open this year. It cannot open this year.
It may open in a year when the enrollment re-stabilizes and we have another need, but I have been very clear to them for this year, as a type 2 charter school because it would add to the number of seats when our kindergarten enrollment is down.
Now I think she has also applied for a type 5 charter school. That type 5 charter school could take over for schools that are struggling. Uh. We are recommending its for approval as well. And she could, uh, provide services within a currently existing school. But a standalone new additional set of however many new kindergarten kids, 50 or 100 or so, I just do not see how we can do that and be fair to the school system.”
This is very interesting because it goes against every idea the charter industry pushes as the need for new charter schools. This decision limits choice at a time where only about 30% of the kids get their first choice by the OneAp system that assigns kids to schools in the city. Some kids must get up at 4 am and don’t return home till 7 at night, even when their first pick choice is directly across the street form their house! Unfortunately assignments are determined by a lottery system and an algorithm, not by common sense or rationality.
This decision of John White’s goes against the cornerstone idea of the charter industry’s claim to want to foster competition, where the best schools will rise to the top based on parental choices and the worst schools will be driven out of business if they don’t please their clients. (Once charter schools are in place they want to harvest their automatic allotment of kids for their MFP dollars and their allies find excuses to make this happen.)
This goes against the idea of preserving and improving quality. John White asked for extensions and renewals of numerous D and F rated charter schools in RSD before this statement (which many community members asked him to reject.)
This also goes against the philosophy John White applies to every other public school system in the state. He is happy to drive traditional public schools into bankruptcy by overriding their decisions to open new charter schools, even as he clearly understands the ramifications of what he is doing:
If you were running a traditional school system you would never open a new school when you have an enrollment deficit.
He is not just overriding local superintendents opinions but the opinions and desires of the actual communities where these schools are being opened!
East Baton Rouge School Board member of district 3, Mrs. Nelson-Smith, the exact place where the 2 charter schools John White authorized at this meeting, explains that while the charter operators did meet with her and other members of the community, they failed to relay to the state school board, BESE, that “We did not approve them.” and that these new STEM charter schools are not needed in this area, which is already designated as the STEM hub for all of EBR and perhaps the worst place to open them in EBR.
Charter schools are clearly not about choice. They are not about competition. They are not about quality. They are not about satisfying the desire or needs of the public. They are clearly not about children. They are about charter schools.
John White is one of the industries greatest charter school/portfolio advocates in the country and oversees the only complete charter district in the nation. Now that they have replaced the traditional system they are digging their heels in even as interest in their “choices” wanes (the reason for the decline White refuses to acknowledge during this meeting).
Charter schools, as they are being implemented now, are about profitability and control. Now that they have the control they are working on the profitability part by hiring inexperienced employees, providing substandard materials, increasing class sizes while fudging results to keep official results “passable” if not overly impressive. If they were actually forced to fight for their students with quality personnel, materials, and results they would not be as profitable as their investors want them to be and some might even go out of business.
Charter schools are not competition, they are not capitalism, they are simply another example of government cronyism. This is one time that I actually believe what John White is saying:
If you were running a traditional school system you would never open a new school when you have an enrollment deficit. And here we have a charter system. [..]
I will tell you this type 2 charter school, and I have told this to Dr. Triplett, cannot open this year. It cannot open this year. [..]
I just do not see how we can do that and be fair to the school system.