John White

The state Dept. of Education has been rolling out all sorts of tests results in the last few weeks – student test scores, teacher evaluations, and school performance calculations.

Political Consultant Gus Weill joins Jim for the better part of today's show to discuss the last few days in Louisiana Politics. He and Jim touch on Rep. Steve Scalise becoming the U.S. House Majority Whip and what that means for the GOP and Congress; the love/hate relationship between Governor Bobby Jindal and Superintendent of Education John White over their Common Core dispute; and much, much more.

Susan Mizruchi joins Jim for the last segment of today's show to talk about her new biography of Marlon Brando titled Brando's Smile. At 19 years old Brando left Nebraska for New York, and by the age of 23 he was one of the worlds greatest actors.

The First Bell series is a growing collection of stories from students, parents, and educators about pivotal experiences in education. To tell your story, email with "My First Bell" in the subject line or tweet with the hashtag #MyFirstBell.


When state Superintendent John White was playing sports in high school, he says the poverty of the kids who lived a mile or two away from him came into view.

"I think there was something always, in a way, powerful, about being in a low-income community’s home court. Because, when you come in with your nice uniforms and, you know, you practice everyday in a nice gym or on a nice field, and you play guys whose uniforms don’t quite look the way they should, or the gym’s in bad shape, and the field is also a soccer, also a baseball, also a something else field, you get a very material view of what inequity looks like."

White found the disparity was something he couldn’t turn his back on.

He now oversees the education of Louisiana’s roughly 700,000 public school students. But he started his career teaching English in a high-poverty high school in Jersey City, NJ.

He says he never considered a career in private education, even though he went to an elite all-boys school — St. Albans in Washington, D.C. — from elementary school all the way through 12th grade. And he loved it.

Jim talks with Stephanie Powell Watts, this year's recipient of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for literary excellence, for her book, "We Are Taking Only What We Need"

Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White discusses the many changes in Louisiana's public education system, and legal challenges some of those initiatives are facing.