Well we have wanted to have our first guest on since we started this program last September. John White is superintendent of the Louisiana Department of Education. And may well be the busiest man on the planet. It's been hectic legislative session where the future of state education was bandied about until the final hour. Common core is the new day in teaching and survive the political battles. But will the governor Vito the latest bill. And we have new test scores to discuss just released last week. What do they tell us of where we are and where we stand in math and English and what we need to do. Superintendent John White just left the convention center where he addressed 4000. Teachers from around the state. And we are so very happy to have him here with us for the next hour so if you have any questions or comments don't hesitate to call us at 260. 1872601. And seventy again welcome thank you for being here. Just casually walked over from talking to force the house her -- -- -- it but these are teacher leaders. He had visited these are the leaders in their schools and there's two or three from every school in our state on the time that is an awesome awesome group and you know for all that. Politics in the noise out there about. Education reform in the politics of education reform Angela there wasn't a word of that in that room that was a group that was focused on their kids they're taking several days out of their summer. Break to come together at our convention center in New Orleans and to learn and to grow and to become better teachers it's pretty inspiring thing. An -- the goal of your discussion with them as well you're right when you when you said -- -- In the introduction which is we have raised expectations for what our kids are expected to do and our state and really what we've done. At the fundamental level. Is faced -- say that we're going to have the highest education standards the highest expectations of any state in America no one's gonna have higher expectations -- Louisiana. And we're gonna be able to measure that as -- going to be able to see our kids as as they compared to kids from across the country in terms of how well they're doing so our teachers for them that's a big adjustment. And moving away from bubble tests for example toward test that actually -- markets to write and to reason and to use logic. Move them away from a standard and expectation that just a Louisiana expectation to. One that is comparable to -- can hang with any state in America that's a big shift and were really coming together today as educators to. Continue that path we've been on for four years were keep -- on gallon and that's what that session is about. For those not involved in education and certainly for those who don't have children but -- are taxpayers and want us to have a successful educational system. That mentioned this magic words common core. Really are defined by what you just sent it is raising the expectations and it is a different method. Of teaching. Yeah I mean I think it's -- Concept that's that's pretty simple. But of course -- got millions of parents and they see it through the lens of millions of different kids so of course to plays out in different ways but the concept Angela is very simple and it's this. You take a state like Massachusetts. At the top state America for education outcomes. They learn math. Their kids learn math a year ahead of our kids. By the time that even middle school comes around and you just think about that's just amazing to me and and our kids are just to spark. They're just as capable as any kids in America they were born with gifts there god has given them that are as great as any child on this earth. And yet for whatever reason. Our expectations of them aren't quite as high as the peoples in Massachusetts -- all we're saying is in reading and writing and mathematics. We're gonna have expectations of by the end of six grade by the end of eleventh grade by the in the first great. Our kids are going to be able to do things at a minimum. Basic things at a minimum. That are no lesser than any other state in the country and those things are familiar to you and to -- those things are about reading. There about writing essays are about writing creative pieces they're about doing mathematics where there solving addition for younger kids are equation for. Middle aged kids -- out rhythms for older kids -- these are not new things but the basic idea -- simple. That we're not going to accept a lower minimum bar. Than any other state in America would have we're gonna have a high standards as exists anywhere in this country. The common core certainly correct me if I'm wrong was created as you said like four years ago multiple states accepted it. Multiple states created it means they came together and yeah this is the thing that's been missed is that. That what we realize the states is not only is it wrong for our kids that our expectation should be somehow lower than what exists in Massachusetts or anywhere else. But it's just a crazy thing from a policy perspective why would we have. A policy that in franchise the idea that kids in the -- you know we're lesser than kids anywhere else so we came together other states have this problem too. And Louisiana and I give my my predecessor to -- -- Paul passed her great credit for this. We came together states we came together with Florida with Massachusetts and other states we -- why -- why -- we have such different expectations. From one place to the next and we said let's create something new unifies us now. That doesn't mean. That are curricula are going to be the same. It doesn't mean that our school programs are gonna be run the same doesn't mean the way that our school districts run their business is going to be the same we have to have a Louisiana specific. Plan for Louisiana's kids we're gonna -- Louisiana history. We're gonna have the programs that we have in our state because it's right for the history in the culture of our state. But in terms of a basic minimum whether or fourth grader California New York or Louisiana should be able to read any better in the next. No we should have a basic minimum that we hold ourselves. That's no lower than anywhere else in the country. Where did the concerns coming in because I heard several sort of branches of one that this was sort of being federally shoved down our throats. Which I didn't understand because so many had collectively put this together. And a not to government it was it was teachers well Anderson and superintendent. Absolutely. But I do want to say there's. I don't think for a second we should dismiss the concerns. Of those who have opposed this initiative I think they've gotten it wrong don't get me wrong but I think many of their concerns about education generally. Are valid and were moving to try to do something about it let me tell you couple things number one. I think while this is not a federal program. Why this was developed by states and while if we didn't wanna do it as a state of Louisiana we can tell the federal government or anybody else who want to listen bore out. We haven't done nexus thing -- the right thing. But we could -- it's our State's right. At the same time I think the federal government. While this is not a federal program the federal government has -- and education it's overreach and a lot of things you -- -- any school board office in the state and you see dozens of little federal programs that are. Effectively run by the rules created Washington DC I think that's wrong so it's not wrong. Of Louisiana taxpayers to be suspicious of federal intervention education it just happens not to be the issue here let me assure you not affect. Louisiana family some of them have come to us and said we're concerned about data privacy. Now I don't think that necessarily relates to the common course specifically I think but I think it's a legitimate concern that Louisiana parent would have that there. Kids information is gonna get into the hands of those who might use it. In the wrong way. And we took actions this legislative session to change that so those are examples of where. On one hand I think the blame that the opponents of the common -- have placed on these minimum expectations. Is wrong but the same time I don't dismiss their concerns generally about the federal government or about data privacy and those are things we need to be count to seven when you defects. Other things I heard and again these are just sent anecdotal bit. That parents wouldn't be that it's tougher the parents in some cases would be able to help their kids do homework that was they weren't understanding the concepts. We'll look back on some level. Those are issues that just need to be worked for with teachers and with parents with kids and that's just the stuff of -- schooling but I don't want to shy away from the fact it's hard. It's hard. I don't think we should shy away from that fact I think it's good. When our education challenges our kids I think it's good when education challenges parents what's critical is that. The lines of communication be opened between teachers and between parents and I think that's the most difficult part of this change process and it's. Moving in the right direction we're not all the way there yet that's why we have 4000 teacher leaders together down the street as we speak. It's because when those teacher leaders at least two from every school. Go back to their school we've been doing this for awhile when they go back to their school. They share -- every other teacher in their school the more well versed every single teacher in this state 50000 teachers. Is in these new expectations the more they're able to get on the phone have conferences have open house is not heard of a great event. In saint James parish -- not too long ago were literally they had every single. Parent and every single child -- And literally just walked through. The work that their kids were doing it's not rocket science but -- she showed them. This is what the common -- expectations are it's not what you see on TV it's not what you. Read in this newspaper that magazine it's what you kids are doing every day we gotta open the lines of communication to parents. This concept again for years started four years ago accepted by our state and now the governor. Is thinking differently you're questioning we're gonna have to take a break we're gonna come back and I'd like your response to that where we York. I'm Angela on WW. Our very special guest John White superintendent Louisiana Department of Education. We're talking about what's happening in the world of education and the answer is a lot. Talking about common core. And again we just open the newspaper today and find out that the governor. Is not yet signing the bill that was passed. That would if you want a better explain net. What representative Walt Leger from New Orleans authored a bill that. Essentially requires the state of reaffirms the State's commitment to higher standards and to tests that measure those higher standards. That's been on the law by the way since 2012 that we're gonna adopt. Nationally competitive standards nationally competitive test. But that's as we're gonna take more time and give our educators are parents. In our students more time until the consequences of those tests taken and and and that's a bill that. Like literally dozens of others the governors is considering right now I'll say that's one way or the other. Our department our state board of education we are committed. To maintain the standards to maintaining these tests that help give us a sense of how well we're competing across the country. We note the right thing to do and we're gonna keep doing it. So if you just a sign that you all move forward we were gonna move forward one way or the other you know that and I think this is something that has been missed and a lot of this discussion is. This legislature. First in 2012 passed a law and this has been missed in this discussion passed a law saying. The states can have nationally recognized standards this state is gonna have tests that compare us -- other states that it was put in the law. Three legislative sessions ago now. Come to this legislative session which just came. To completion yesterday. The legislature said we're not going to change our position on that. And so this has been in spite of all the politics and all the noise. An incredible affirmation by our legislature both houses that this is the path we're on our state board is continuing to work on an every day -- State Department working on every day our school systems -- and every day. Tens of millions of dollars -- time of teachers invested in the 4000 teachers across the street right now working on we're not backing. Let me just -- for those who don't want that. Forget the politics apparent whatever is there a concern that our kids won't. Mean the level of other states that they don't want to be tested. Across the board but with the feared it. You know I can't I can't speak -- for the parents of course but I will say this. All parents love. Their children yes like they love nothing else on this or and they see education not through the lens that a bureaucrat like me sees it through they see it through the lens of their kids. And their kids experience and the experience in their school is going to dictate what they think about. Education so we should honor and respect. All of those perspectives and to the degree we can help them understand that helped their teachers understand and help their kids do well that's the and we got to be focused on right now. I just remember in the discussions that in reality if you choose to become a doctor or lawyer you teton national exams. Absolutely -- look at -- I just believe that a fundamental level. That we talk about Louisiana not achieving what we want in public education that's not because our kids were somehow born. Lesser than our kids are just as capable as anyone else's kids it is because. We have in part. Tied our hands behind our back with some lower expectations now we have other challenges too. We know we have parts of our state to have some real historical challenges that makes education all the harder it also by the way. Makes it all the more more important. And we've got to keep faithful to that idea too so. To me high expectations it doesn't solve all your problems you've got to reach those high expectations gonna have a good plan you can have. Great talent teachers those -- the things that. Matter to hitting those high expectations but it starts. With -- expectations and there's no reason not to have. We just got test scores back last week and you kind of around them forming yeah I was a big moment I mean these were the first tests that we had were really. Aligned to these new higher expectations that are reflected them are teachers were very very hard. And the results showed that. We were steady against last year that in spite of the fact that the tests were harder our kids are teachers they rose to the challenge and our results were steady against last year. But we'll also say this. The results show we have a long way to go. I'm here for years we have said that. A basic level you know if you just have a basic level and do basically well on these tests that that's good enough for us well. We're gonna over time very gradually over time as I've said it raised that bar so we're gonna expect. Real mastery. On the test real depth of understanding depth of knowledge real ability. On that test speed reading it writing or did math and as we do that it's gonna get more challenging for schools and for our kids but that's the right thing to do. The words I love hearing are are the teaching of critical thinking. And helped give me some examples if you would of and in that his being integrated in in this process -- because I see that is such a benefits in life. And I it's so true and I think about all the time the best people on my team you know who worker. With -- and for me every day and what really characterizes them well they've they've got great values their -- But they also know how to identify problems how to break down problems and how to say I think I found a solution -- at the end of the day. That's what great people in the work environment do. And when I think about going to college whether it's going to community college you're going to -- university what you learn there. Is not just to think can regurgitate it but to think independently to do it. Of your own volition. And that's really. What were trying to instill more in our kids to help our teachers teach to bring back into the curriculum and to measure on our tests. You know in the past when we asked kids to -- question might be who is your hero and explain why. Which is fine but in the real world. No that's not really the independent thinking that we value in the real world we look at problems that are complicated we break them down into little pieces we some of the creative solution to this problem. Well now on our tests and now on our curriculum. We have righting past as we might even have to where we compare one to the other. We have the student identify. Challenger problem critique of those pieces and we say. Give us your argument but don't just give us your argument. Give us evidence from that reading passage that backs up your claim. Let me tell you something as a teacher. That is a huge shift to make. For my kids but also for me. That's the essence of this shift it's about independent thinking to say I see the problem here's what I think we should do and here's what -- might have my reasoning. That's the shift from making it's important. I think that is incredibly important. You know why I know that your background early background. Was in Teach for America and charter school and I'm I'm just curious how you have seen biggest. Both of them get great compliments -- Teach for America is the ultimate. How much that has integrated into who you more as a leader now. Well -- I will say this I think that. Government. Education these -- oldest forms of public service my Brothers in the navy. And I don't believe that my services it is at a particularly different motivation at least and then his service they're very different nature but at the end at the end of are part of both of our commitments is a commitment to this country. And to making this country a better place has to protecting this country my intent making a greater future for our young people. It all comes -- of that. I see that -- in all of our teachers -- they Teach for America or not I see that in our principles be their principles of charter schools or traditional districts schools. Or principles of nonpublic schools. And you know I'm I'm a little bit tired. Of the politics. That divide us and education between -- you Teach for America are you traditional argue charter or your traditional -- private or you public. You know I went to a private school. I taught in a traditional public school. I've been on the boards of charter schools I've overseen a school system that is predominately charter schools. And so people call you this name they'll call you that. The -- kids -- kids. Kids -- kids whether -- in the city the suburbs the rural environment schools -- schools we got good schools we've got struggling schools we've got great private schools we've got struggling private schools hypocrite public schools struggling private schools. These words the people used to divide us. Unfortunately don't get to the heart of what makes great government great public service great education which is a lot of our country and a lot of our people. And a lot of other people and and that's what it's all about from it. John why everyone stay with us we'll continue our discussion right after this. Once again we -- talking with -- John White superintendent the Louisiana Department of Education. And we've been talking about what's been happening in the legislature. About the evolution now of common course now four years in our state but fully integrated into all the schools and the first test results. Which you are happy with and that they are because the test as you said was more difficult but. We're holding our own you know we're on track we're on track and on that trap would you say. Can you project where you would like to see use let's say in five years well I. Like to be at a point where when we call a school and A rated school you know we we rate our schools and we -- in the letter grade every year just like America's great we give them a great. When we give -- school and day. I'd like to say that one apparent -- his or her child to that school. They can understand that their kid will be achieving the highest level of college readiness on a national benchmark. On a national standard on a national expectation there would hold -- in any part of our country. They can be assured that the average performance just the average and that's cool. -- college ready we're not there yet you know to give you a sense of that right now on an a rated school. Well under half in our state of kids are really ready at that level right now so we've got a ways to go. But that's the that's ride like to go we said we're gonna get their by 20/20 five. That's the year went today's kindergartners the ones -- just this last year experienced -- curriculum for the first time -- seniors in high school and so by the time without. Rolls around I'd like to be at that point reconsider our best schools are truly at a top level can compete with anybody in this country. Right now you're talking about. Massachusetts is the highest rated. Where are we in the pecking order. Well historically and I know this fact gets cited often. We are in the bottom ten bottom five or ten states on on most measures when your talking about our literacy rates went to augment our graduation rates. But as I said before. There -- a lot of challenges we face no doubt about it we have some very very challenged parts of our state and that makes education all the horror also all the more important. But I see evidence that when we set our mind to it we can move on those national rankings. At great speed and wanted to give a couple of examples. Last year for the first time. Every junior and our state. Took the AC take every single one of the institute as you know some people concerned about it they said look not every kid wants to go to college why would you have ever -- AP CT. An amazing thing happened. First when we didn't. 5000. Kids. Got a college going to score that gets them actually even a top scholarship to a community technical college or better who had never planned on taking the test before. That's just amazing and it just is about raising the bar creating greater opportunity for kids they rise and they meet the -- second. When we did that. Our average actually beat. Many of our broader regional states across the you'd expect us not to be able to compete with. The Tennessee's the north Carolina's people civilian never to be with a state we actually beat those states on the ACT last year. So we have evidence we can do -- third one. The highest form of college readiness test is called the advanced placement tests you may have heard -- popular across the country historically we've been the nation's lowest rated. Advanced placement state. Literally last year we made it a priority I schools around the state rallied and said we're going to get our kids in our teachers trained get our kids' college credit on advanced placement. We were the fastest growing state in the country last year. In terms of number of advanced placement tests passed. -- a large margin when we set our mind to these nationally ambitious things ACT. AP common core standards our state can do it we don't need to be at the bottom if we have anything to say about it. That is tremendous news coming that is just. We need to hear those things. It is sometimes it just believing in yourself absolutely not looking at what has been in the past and sort of labeling. It is knowing and I couldn't agree with you more on something you said but when you first sent down witches. For -- every parent wants their child. That we need to think that we're just to start as anybody else we may not have had some of the opportunities. Historically. But other states -- pat but this could well be the beginning of that we are offering next. Absolutely -- Angela couldn't agree more and you know when a move to Louisiana several years ago and one of the first things I noticed as the abundance of Louisiana the opportunity of Louisiana. Its culture its natural resources its love of its people its incredible energy its commitment to a better life. It when you have those things as a state you have a future that's possible you have the growth potential and -- realized that. If we can create opportunity for our people that's the best possible policy the worst possible policy is one that restricts people that says. No we're gonna choose which kids get to take the ACT you go over here you go over here. We're not gonna offer AP because advanced placement tests might just be a little bit too hard for our state. We're not willing to compete with Massachusetts because they're number one and we're number 47. You know when you start making judgments like that he -- drawn lines in the sand you restrict opportunity. We need a policy that expands opportunity and opportunity starts as a child. Opportunity starts when you are young child and our system should be orient our education system toward providing families the opportunity to choose. Teachers the opportunity to make choices as to what goes on in the classroom and most important. Kids opportunity -- to what to do with their lives that's a policy that I can support. You know that is a very important thing in your you're touching on something that we're gonna take a break when we come back I wanna hit on. And it is what we have heard from -- business organizations about the growing need in the coming years of like 40000. Employees. And the educational process behind that stay with this we'll be right back. Again a very special guest John might superintendent Louisiana Department of Education. Who has had quite a couple years I'm making some transitions into common core. But I'm I'm putting words in your mouth but I I think your feeling very good about the direction we're going our program we're on the up and up. Futures looking very -- Perkins. Well something that we sort of hit on was. In having many shows that we have with lobby injuries business organizations. Is sort of their crying need for employees because they see. In -- in the very near future the need upwards of 40000. People who are well educated from high school some into technical schools. But sometimes just with a great high school diploma was special train. And I'm just wondering how your thoughts going to that need to yeah. Well it's a great question and it's a very obvious one in Louisiana because the jobs are so plentiful. It's coming it's right around the corner and we have a question her choice in front of us is it going to be our graduates to fill those jobs are going to be someone -- jobs some else's graduates of fill those jobs. And you know they're too. Thought that I think have people have a hard time reconciling but I think it's very important that we -- do we come to a terror groups with one is there's been a stigma. Against career technical education in this country are really going back to generations. It has to stop we we have to reverse it. Two on the other hand just going to work the fields are going to work the gas station and not getting high school degree York. Really not having any education after high school that's not acceptable I mean when you talk to the people who run the refineries when you talk to people run that. -- -- manufacturing plants. People run hospitals in our state. -- they will tell you I don't need somebody. Who has a four year degree from two Lander LSU or southern in in economics or what have you. But I do need somebody you can do basic mathematics and -- somebody you can write that somebody can communicate and be responsible. And what that says to me is we have to reinvent the career technical education system we have to make it something that is. Rigorous where there's education beyond the high school years where -- truly prepare for 21 century job not a nineteenth century job. But at the same time it's got to be about a viable pathway. Only 20%. Of Louisiana's have a -- university degree and if you don't have a plan for the other 80%. Then you don't have a plan period that's got to change we've -- program called jumpstart. The brings. Corporations and industry together with our high schools together with the local technical colleges and starting. The junior year or earlier begins giving kids internships. Technical and community college credit as well as course in our schools we've begun rewarding it by rewarding our high schools in the accountability points. Four when kids get these industry credentials just as we reward them when they get advanced placement credentials and we finally funded and by the way. A great victory coming out of the legislative session. That has gone largely unnoticed. Is it for the first time. Our legislature stepped up. And they said we're gonna fund career and technical education courses at a higher level because let's be frank it's more expensive to teach a kid to weld or to be a nurse. That is to teach a kid to read Hamlet that's just a fact. And they said not only gonna fund those in the high schools. We're gonna fund them at the nor short technical college's at the don't get -- at the newness as they said we're gonna fund and in our community technical colleges so high school kids have that opportunity. As well that's a great thing that it. Well that is a vital thing they did because clearly others will come in not that we don't want new people in our state but if our own people are wanting. And not getting the job seekers are not qualified somebody else comes in that's crazy. If we can. Opted you know the that you call an internship while the stigma were thanks very important we did a program where we touched on this very thing. And we had business people calling yeah. Who have technical whether to plumber or person doesn't walls that senator senator. Not able to find workers. Paying very good money here and it's a couple of a couple of them said they literally would have someone come in and they wouldn't come back a second time they're gonna train them. -- train usually make this very good and they would say no I talk to my friends and not coming back. Saying I've talked to my friends this isn't good enough. Not good enough to make thirty dollars an hour 35 dollars an hour in some cases. There has to be a change in mindset. That there really doesn't know we've got this mindset. To use your word that that you when -- eighteen rather go to a four university where you don't. Well -- you know I have got music it's there's actually a lot more. Complexity to it than not. We got a lot of people. Going to four universities and and not succeeding taking on a ton of debt. And not really getting the credential that they were seeking on the other hand we've got a lot of people who. Are choosing not to go to four universities but don't quite know where to go and effective it is there's going to be a pathway. To a middle class wage to a prosperous life for every Louisiana you gotta get too high school. And the jobs today require an education after high school but that doesn't mean necessarily. A four university degree for everybody. And when we say another thing. What if you go when you get that to your degree where you go and you get that industry credentials or you go and you get that workplace training you take that job you're describing. There's nothing stopping you from going back to get that bachelor's degree at a later date. We got to get away from the mindset that every kid is the same and the four university or bust. Or is the only two choices that the kid has its not the way the workforce works in a 20%. Turnout give you could not be more right about that I didn't want to leave before we talked about. Something as basic as what do you see it as someone who makes a great teacher. It to me. Teaching is a leadership position. At its core and it doesn't get -- -- that respect you know people think about businesspeople and politicians and lawyers and doctors and so on as as leadership jobs. Teaching is the ultimate leadership job why. What is it involved. It involves working with a group of people. Building very very deep relationships with them they may be four years old or fourteen years -- or what have you but you build a deep trust and bond with them. You set ambitious goals with them as a group and you said ambitious goals with them as individuals you understand. Their specific circumstances. You work with them you work with their parents and every single day you bring them along you let them know when they. Succeed you let them know when they struggle here honest with them you work with them you tailor your solutions to help them. Get ready to meet that big goal and when they meet that big goal. You have achieved in the group's celebrates -- that's a that's a leadership activity. I -- a great teacher is by definition. A great leader they don't get enough respect. On that level in our society and if there is something I can just wave a magic wand and make happen. For education system it would be that it would be that the place of our teacher he's truly. Ranked up there among the other positions that we mentioned truly. Viewed as a leadership role in our society because. Add in all actuality it is the most important leadership role in our society. Without question. It seemed as if post-Katrina we went through would change where. And I know the complexity of this but. It was an opportunity. To. Take the best of the best. Then it's a matter of keeping the best of the best. And you know somebody who was a teacher at the core and their heart will do that forever. But how do you keep the ones that are everything you hoped them to be in -- so successful with kids. Interested and you know because it's hard. And it can be burnout. It is hard and and it is very very hard work. It's the same way I don't think that you addressed that issue in any workplace that's as challenging -- that's as stressful and and has as much pressure. As schools do and that is. As a manager. As a principal. He talked to your people you understand their professional goals you help them set professional goals. You make sure that they have time during their day to meet with their colleagues to work with their colleagues you make sure that they have a path. Forward that they don't just have to stay in the same job for 35 years during the same thing day in and day out they can't if that's what their choices but they also have other professional options. We've got to get to a point when we're teaching is not viewed as. A labor jobs where it has to be the same thing every day it's a dynamic profession where you take on bigger challenges is over the course of your life. And I really believe that if being in New Orleans or anywhere else in our state. If you have schools that run like that. Where you have principles to truly give their employees a sense of here's what the future can look like for you and I wanna make it happen for you. That this retention problem -- in great part BD mitigated now look. Do I wish there was more money in public education absolutely what I put that we're teachers' salaries absolutely and I think that making sure we keep pace and that investment will go along way. But it's not just money. Keeps people in these positions -- teachers really there they're not in it for the money -- for the love of what they do in the love of their kids but helping them have. Their own dreams their own aspirations in achieving those things professionally that's what's gonna keep people in -- I cannot thank you enough for this entire hour again since almost day one of the show we want to -- we know -- pulled in many different directions. This means a lot and you have a permanent invitation to come back. And up status as things evolved and and we really depend on that Cairo reported out and I welcome and it's been Rupert which thank usual thank you and stay with this every one. Two more hours to different subjects I hope you'll be with this we'll be right back.