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BESE Considers Waivers

BESE Update: October 2021

This month BESE conducted their regularly scheduled Committee meetings and full Board Meeting on October 12th and 13th. During their lengthy discussions, the Board considered waiver requested from different school districts, including a state-wide waiver for school letter grades. LFT Legislative & Political Director addressed the board three times during the meeting to point out their failure to prioritize the needs of teachers and school employees.

“I would be remiss if I did not point out that none of the waivers considered today would help to staunch the bleed of qualified educators leaving the profession or increase the negligible drip of people wanting to enter the profession.

In 2021 at the legislative session, LFT and other stakeholders, submitted two bills and two resolutions to request and address waivers for SLTs in the accountability system. The inaction to consider or implement any type of relief to address the plight and frustration of current teachers speaks louder than any overused platitude given in place of respect and acknowledgement of them as professionals and advocates for their children.

We would urge you to listen to the conversations that we’ve had today about the loss of teachers and people not wanting to come into the profession. This is one of the reasons why. Because we’ve asked repeatedly for waivers to give some relief to what they’re facing. To use SLTs to judge teachers in a classroom where you have kids continuously cycling in and out - are they remote, hybrid, in the classroom, quarantined - it’s not fair to judge them by that.”

Ultimately, the Board did vote to suspend school letter grades for the 2021-2022 school year (pending federal approval), but they will still publish “advisory” school performance scores which will not account for the disruption schools face as a result of the pandemic and natural disasters.

In the Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement Committee, the board also discussed their existing ‘accountability’ measures. Long-term defenders of the testing system such as Holly Boffy and Jim Garvey explained that the system was always a work in progress and they are open to changes. While it’s encouraging to see educational leadership rethinking the highly flawed accountability measures that currently exist in Louisiana, it’s clear that process will only be fruitful when the discussion is centered around the voices and experiences of classroom educators.

In the School Innovation and Turnaround Committee, BESE heard from applicants who submitted BESE Authorized Charter Proposals. These are Charter Schools who are seeking authorization from BESE and were not authorized by the local school board in the district they operate. BESE had the opportunity to hear from all the applicants and ask questions. The board will vote on the applications later this year. You can watch the full discussion here.

Attendance Report
Ashley Ellis as Kira Orange-Jones were absent from all committee meetings on Tuesday and the full meeting of the board on Wednesday.

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