In A Flash

Voters may decide if they want to eliminate appointed BESE members

By: - April 13, 2022 12:50 pm
Louisiana silhouette over classroom

The Louisiana House of Representatives approved a redistricting map for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education that maintains the current number of minority districts at two.

Louisiana voters could have full control over who serves on their state school board under a proposed constitutional amendment moving through the Louisiana Legislature.

Right now, voters choose eight district representatives to the 11-member Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the governor appoints three. If approved, House Bill 4, authored by Rep. Phillip Tarver, R-Lake Charles, would eliminate the gubernatorial appointees.

Tarver’s bill was approved Tuesday in the House Education Committee in a 7-3 vote.

The bill would give citizens “a say in whether or not they’re satisfied with the decision-making responsibilities currently, or whether they’d like to have a more clear say in who’s responsible and accountable for the decision of the board of education,” Tarver said to the committee.

The proposal would require a change to the state constitution, meaning it needs two-thirds support in the Louisiana House and Senate and approval from a majority of voters statewide. The amendment would go into effect starting in 2024.

Rep. Charles Owen, a member of the committee, said appointing BESE members is “a vestige of an imperial governorship that we were always used to in Louisiana.” Owen, a Republican from Vernon Parish, voted in favor of the bill.

“I’m of the opinion that people should get to decide if we want to keep going down this path,” Owen said.

In the United States, 24 states have state education board that are completely appointed by their governors, and 16 more states state education boards have some combination of elected and appointed members.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.