Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is an administrative policy-making body for elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. state of Louisiana. It was created in the 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention, called by then Governor Edwin W. Edwards, and codified as Article VIII of the resulting document, the 1974 Louisiana Constitution.
BESE provides leadership in setting the education agenda for public education with an emphasis on student and school achievement. BESE also pushes for greater funding of public education.
The BESE consists of eleven total members: eight elected members from the eight BESE districts [based on the former eight congressional districts, since reduced to six] along with three members-at-large appointed by the governor. The elected members serve four-year terms, concurrent with the governor.
In 2007, the board appointed Paul Pastorek, a former BESE member, as the Louisiana state education superintendent upon the death of Cecil J. Picard. Pastorek resigned as superintendent in 2011. In 2012, eight of the eleven members were required to confirm Governor Bobby Jindal's appointment of John C. White as superintendent. White is an advocate of the Common Core State Standards Initiative,which encompasses educational vouchers, charter schools and in-depth teacher evaluations.
The powers and duties of the State Board can be broadly grouped into six main categories, which include:
- Enacting policies and adopting regulations governing the state-wide operations of public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools, including special schools and entities in Special School District # l;
- Exercising administrative oversight over functions of the state's three special schools (blind, deaf, physically handicapped), and Special School Districts #1 and #2, including personnel, budget, and program operations;
- Administering and serving as the fiscal agent and as program control agent for the Education Quality Trust Fund (8(g) programs;
- Conducting administrative hearings and serving as the "court of last resort" prior to judicial proceedings in cases/controversies deriving from Board actions;
- Exercising budgetary and fiscal control over the educational programs and services at the elementary and secondary (state and federal funds);
- Preparing the MFP and presenting it to the Legislature for approval and distributing funds to local school systems.
The Board has other more specifically defined duties assigned to it by law. These include:
- Approval of certification requirements for school personnel, including approval of National Teacher Examination scores for classroom teachers and school administrators;
- Adoption of policies for the assessment and evaluation of teachers/administrators;
- Adoption of policies for the assessment of student performance, including the Graduation Exit Exam (GEE), and policies for remediation of students performing below standard;
- Awarding of diplomas and certificates for successful completion of programs of study;
- Serving as local school Board for the state special schools for blind, deaf, and physically handicapped;
- Coordinating the educational programs in the state correctional institutions and mental health facilities (Special School Districts # 1 and # 2);
- Approval of textbooks, library and reference books purchased with state funds;
- Administration of school food service programs in all schools;
- Adoption of operating standards for public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools;
- Administer the 8(g) Quality Trust Fund Program;
- Administer the state's Charter Schools Program.
Five of the following members were elected from BESE electoral districts in 2011 and three, Roemer, King and Hill, won runoffs:
- 1st District: James Garvey, Jr. (Republican) of Metairie
- 2nd District: Kira Orange Jones (Democrat) of Baton Rouge
- 3rd District: Lottie Beebe (R) of Breaux Bridge
- 4th District: Walter C. Lee (R) of Shreveport
- 5th District: Jay Guillot (R) of Ruston
- 6th District: Chas Roemer, or Charles Elson Roemer, IV (R) of Baton Rouge (son of former Governor Buddy Roemer and grandson of Charles E. Roemer, II, Louisiana commissioner of administration from 1972 to 1980)
- 7th District: Holly Boffy (R) of Lafayette
- 8th District: Carolyn Hill (D) of Baton Rouge
The following members were appointed by Governor Jindal:
Five of the eleven members live in Baton Rouge. Most were elected with "heavy investment and support" by the interest group, the Louisiana Federation for Children. Five received endorsements from Jindal. A nine-member board majority supports school vouchers and charter schools.
- "BESE purpose, about page". Louisiana Board of Education. Louisiana Board of Education. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
- "Paul Pastorek Louisiana’s State Superintendent of Education". beta.lpb.org. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
- "Sarah Tan, Common Core is here to stay, state education board says, October 16, 2013". New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- name "John Cavanaugh, John White Appointed Chief of Louisiana Schools, January 11, 2012". Education Week. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
- "Duties of BESE". BESE. Louisiana Board of Education. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
- "Click Walter Lee, October 1934". voterportalsos.la.gov. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
- Sentell, Will. "Results mean change", The Advocate, Baton Rouge, 2 February 2012. Retrieved on 3 June 2012.
- "Meet the Board" Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Retrieved on 3 June 2012.