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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 GovernorEdwin 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.
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 statewide 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.
On March 8, 2017, BESE adopted new science standards for elementary and secondary schools, the first updating in twenty years. The standards encompass the Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008, which protects academic freedom for teachers and students considering scientific subject matter, such as the age of the earth, human cloning, and global climate change. Louisiana State Representative Beryl Amedee, a Republican from Gray in Terrebonne Parish, had taken the lead in petitioning BESE to include the science education act in the formulation of the new standards.
Five of the following members were elected from BESE electoral districts in 2011 and three, Roemer, King and Hill, won runoffs:
8th District: Jada Lewis (D) of Baton Rouge, elected in 2015.
The following members were appointed in January 2016 by Governor John Bel Edwards:
Thomas Roque ·
Lurie Thomason, Jr. ·
Most of the members were elected with "heavy investment and support" by the interest group, the Louisiana Federation for Children. A nine-member board majority has supported school vouchers and charter schools.