Louisiana Record

Monday, April 6, 2020

State Sen. Milkovich says Louisiana law requires reconfirmation of education superintendent

By Carrie Salls | Jun 30, 2017

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BATON ROUGE — Louisiana Sen. John Milkovich recently filed a lawsuit in the 19th Judicial Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge, challenging the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s decision to keep John White as superintendent.

The suit seeks to place White before the Louisiana Senate for a reconfirmation hearing. Milkovich said that under Louisiana law, White’s reconfirmation hearing should have come before the end of the second legislative session during his second four-year term as superintendent.

“That term ended June 8,” Milkovich, a Democrat, told the Louisiana Record. “He was not reconfirmed.” 

Milkovich said White took no steps to seek reconfirmation and must be answerable to the people of Louisiana through the reconfirmation process. 

“We believe he holds a position of vast importance,” Milkovich said.

According to Milkovich, issues with White’s tenure as the head of the state’s education department dates back to his appointment by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

“There were a lot of politics behind Mr. White’s initial appointment,” Milkovich said.

Milkovich claims that out-of-state billionaires “poured an unprecedented amount of money into BESE board elections” during the campaigns for the board that eventually appointed White. He said the total contributions to those elections were $258,596 in 2007, compared with $2.39 million in 2011.

Milkovich said many believe the spike in donations in 2011 “was designed to appoint John White.”

Special interest contributions and lobbying by then-federal education official Arnie Duncan also coincided with White’s appointment, Milkovich said.

Since White has been at his post, Milkovich said his administration has “forced Common Core on Louisiana,” even though there was a public outcry against adopting those standards in the state. Milkovich said the Common Core system includes age-inappropriate standards, a “one-size-fits-all” education philosophy, “nonsensical” homework assignments and an “often incoherent” Eureka Math system.

Milkovich also said the Common Core system also includes lessons that do not match the values of the citizens of Louisiana, calling some of the lessons “smutty.”

In addition, Milkovich said the system in place requires teachers to shape their lesson plans toward a single test and burdens them with red tape that does not allow them enough time to teach. He said this has driven many teachers out of Louisiana.

“Mr. White’s education policies have had a significant adverse impact,” Milkovich said.

Milkovich said White’s education system costs the state $1.4 billion per year on top of the $3.6 billion paid to local school districts.

“We believe we are hardly getting a return on that huge investment,” he said.

As for the lawsuit, filed against White and the BESE, Milkovich said out-of-state special interests, such as investment bankers and brokers that meet in Washington, D.C., have purchased television advertisements in Louisiana designed to pressure him to drop his petition for declaratory judgment that White be reconfirmed.

“We do not intend to dismiss our petition,” Milkovich said.

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Organizations in this Story

Louisiana Department of EducationLouisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education