We know we’ve talked a lot about education lately, but this one is too good to pass up.


We read an opinion article written by Dayne Sherman for ActionNews17 that has given us yet another opportunity to discuss our favorite topic: BRANDING.


The opinion piece discusses the disdain some stakeholders have with the direction of education in the state, particularly as it relates to teacher certification. The author notes Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White and other leaders have said publicly teachers don’t need to need to be certified in order to teach. Sherman expresses his disbelief with this ideology and he calls upon education college professors to rally against what he implies is an attack on teacher certification.


Where does branding come in?


Well, Sherman’s piece states an ActionNews17 reporter described White, who has been traveling the state speaking with parents, educators, leaders and others, in this way:


“White arrived late, like he did for the previous speech, dressed like he was attending a corn husking party in an open shirt with the sleeves rolled up and wrinkled, too-tight pants about half way unzipped.”

Sherman said, “This is about par for the course for Jindal hack John White. The people in Louisiana and Tangipahoa Parish deserve better from the state’s top education official.

“Why can’t a guy making $275,000 a year go to J.C. Penny’s and buy a modest suit of clothes? A school board meeting is not a corn husking party. Perhaps he likes the “hot pants” look. Maybe it’s part of his “brand” as a hip patron saint of Teach For America. TFA is the teacher corps program taking over the state.

“But I’m still scratching my head.”


A major part of any branding strategy is appearance. We suppose White’s clothing choice was made in an effort to look normal or appear like he was connected with his audience (we can make no suppositions about why he was late … twice). We imagine he did not want to seem disconnected to the hardworking citizens of Tangipahoa parish (a parish is a county for you non Louisiana folks), nor did he wish to appear like a guy who makes more than quarter of a million dollars annually.


We get it. It’s the sort of thing politicians do win they’re vying for your vote. Take a look here and here and you can see both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, dressed down in casual clothes in an effort to connect with their audience. Each also appears with their sleeves rolled up, almost like they were set to attend a “corn-husking party.”


The difference between White and/or President Obama or Romney is that the presidential candidates only appear that way when not acting in an official capacity. We never see the President giving the State of the Union address in slacks and a button-up shirt. Likewise, the residents of Tangipahoa Parish who obviously came to hear a ‘State of Education’ address of sorts from the state’s top education leader expected him to be dressed the part.


Too bad White’s well-intentioned meeting to address stakeholders left a bad taste in residents’ mouths. Too bad a major point of a reporter’s story was the education leaders’ dress. That doesn’t bode well for the man who is trying to brand himself as a transformational education chief in Louisiana. If White expects these folks to rally behind him and support his actions, we suppose he’d better start dressing like a leader.


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