April 6, 2011
New Orleans has picked John White, a top official in New York City’s education department, as its next superintendent, the Times-Picayune is reporting.
The report sends another blow to New York City Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, whose leadership team has been hemorrhaging members. But it also signals that cities continue to be eager to hire administrators who cut their teeth under her predecessor, former schools chancellor Joel Klein.
White would replace Paul Vallas, who is leaving the charter-school-rich Recovery School District at the end of the school year. The Times-Picayune reports that the decision could be finalized at a meeting of the state board of education on Friday.
The Recovery School District referred a request for comment to Louisiana’s state board of education, which did not immediately have a statement. White did not return a request for comment.
Currently the city’s deputy chancellor for talent, labor, and innovation, White began his career in education as a teacher with Teach for America, then ran the organization’s Chicago office. In New York, he has risen from an aide inside the office that creates new schools and shuts down failing ones to a leading official overseeing the city’s ambitious Innovation Zone project.
In these roles, he won respect among some who describe him as a leading thinker on how to transform a school district with the so-called “portfolio” approach. The term refers to the policy of offering several different school options to families — and closing down the options that are judged to be beyond repair.
Community members who opposed that approach, meanwhile, resented White. The Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, once said White had “the worst job — ever.”
White would be the second of Black’s top deputies to depart this week. Santiago Taveras, the deputy chancellor for community engagement, announced his departure on Monday.