John White

John White served as Louisiana State Superintendent of Education from 2012 to 2020. In that role, he developed nationally recognized efforts to unify the state’s fragmented early childhood system, to modernize curriculum, to professionalize the preparation of educations, and to provide pathways to prosperity for all high school graduates.

Today Louisiana is a better educated state than at any point in the state’s history. Louisiana’s class of 2018 included 5,000 more graduates than did the class of 2012. Five thousand more students in that class earned the state’s TOPS college scholarship, and 5,000 more enrolled in college after graduating high school. In that time, the number of Louisiana students earning Advanced Placement early college credits has increased by 167 percent, and Louisiana ranks No.1 in the nation in the percentage of high school seniors completing an application for higher education financial aid.

In 2019, Louisiana students ranked first in the nation for improvement in 8th grade mathematics on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Over the decade spanning John’s tenure, Louisiana ranked in the top 10 states for improvement on every one of the four main NAEP tests.

Prior to being named State Superintendent, John served as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District, leading the reformation of public schools in New Orleans in the years after Hurricane Katrina. He previously served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein as Deputy Chancellor for the New York City Department of Education and served as Executive Director of Teach For America – Chicago and Teach For America – New Jersey. He began his career as an English teacher at William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, New Jersey.

John’s writings on education have been published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Education Next, the Daily Beast, The Hill, and the Brookings Institution’s Evidence Speaks. He has testified in Congress on the No Child Left Behind Act, the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Higher Education Act, and early childhood care and education.

John currently serves as a fellow at the Walton Family Foundation and as managing principal for Watershed Advisors, a recently formed venture building the capacity of governments to implement transformative ideas at a scale. He is co-founder and former chairman of the independent non-profit advocacy organization Chiefs for Change, as well as co-founder and chairman of the Propel America, a non-profit start-up connecting recent high school graduates with good first jobs. John has received faculty appointments to the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development. He holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public administration from New York University.


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