Update: John White Calls on García To Retract Statements La. State Superintendent Calls Comments "Insensitive" and "Inaccurate"

Louisiana State Superintendent John White called on National Education Association president Lily Eskelsen García to publicly retract statements she made last week about the rebuilding of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina.

On Friday, the Pacific Northwest Inlander published an interview with García in which she claimed that state education officials rebuilt and modernized “white suburb public schools” while bulldozing those in New Orleans’ black neighborhoods.

Background on this story:

Nobody Likes A Liar, Lily | PE + CO

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association (NEA), visited Rogers High School in Spokane, Washington last week. While she was there, she sat down for an interview with Wilson Criscione of the Pacific Northwest Inlander, in which she made several outlandish claims that had absolutely no connection to the truth.

In a letter sent to García this morning, White called those comments “not only inaccurate but also insensitive to the city’s arduous recovery from a horrific tragedy,” and pointed out that education officials have built “26 brand new public school buildings and 31 renovated public school buildings, with 23 additional projects to be completed soon.” He went on to note that, “By 2019, every single public school student in New Orleans, no matter race nor family income, will attend a new or renovated facility.”

White concluded his letter to García by saying, “So as to clear the record, I call on you to retract these damaging comments immediately.”

As of press time, García had yet to respond to White’s letter. Be sure to check back here for updates.

Written by Peter Cook

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.


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  1. Peter, how would you define a suburb of New Orleans? Specifically, which parishes would you put them in.

    • Well, if you’re talking about suburbs in the traditional sense, it would include portions of Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes, although I wouldn’t object if portions of St. Tammany & Plaquemines were included. You could also make the case that areas like the Lakeview section of NOLA are also pretty suburban-ish, too.

  2. I read your article this morning and undoubtedly believe that the statements made were appalling. That being said I truly believe those in charge of certain things should act accordingly. In my opinion the only people who John White should be worried about pleasing are the many families of Louisiana who children are in the school system here. Political and business battles gets us nowhere and this actually is a distraction as I see it. People will talk just let your actions speak for you.

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Nobody Likes A Liar, Lily

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