Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards Appoints Three BESE Members
On January 05, 2016, Louisiana Governor-elect John Bel Edwards announced his three appointees to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).
One is St. Bernard Parish Superintendent Doris Voitier, who graduated in 1971 from the University of New Orleans with a degree in secondary education (her classroom certification is in math and social studies) and who has been certified as a supervisor of instruction and principal since 1982. Voitier received her certification to become a superintendent in 1994. Voitier became superintendent of St. Bernard Parish Public Schools the year before Hurricane Katrina hit, 2004-05.
A second appointee, Lurie Thomason, Jr., is an assistant professor at Grambling State University. Thomason has been teaching at Grambling for over 20 years. Governor-elect Edwards approached both state union presidents and asked them to offer consensus suggestions for potential BESE appointees. Thomason was one of the individuals whom Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) President Steve Monaghan and Louisiana Education Association (LAE) president Deborah Meaux suggested that the Governor-elect appoint to BESE.
During the past month, I have corresponded with Meaux regarding the union choice for suggested appointees. In response to my concern about the ability of the governor-elect’s appointees to navigate BESE, Meaux wrote the following:
I can assure you they (the union-endorsed suggested BESE appointees) are aware of the problems with the reform movement and are in opposition to any dismantling of public education and in favor of a Louisiana candidate for state superintendent of Ed with Louisiana approved credentials.
The third appointee is Thomas Roque, Sr., the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Alexandria, a system comprised of eight elementary and three high schools, spanning Avoyelles, Rapides, and Nachitoches parishes.
Not much information is available on Roque (or Thomason, for that matter). However, I know that in making his three appointments, Governor-elect Edwards wanted to appoint two public school and one parochial school representative. Also, these appointees are neither controversial public figures, nor are they promoters of market-based reform.
I believe Edwards’ BESE appointments bespeak what I have already written about his intention to “govern from the center”– and to lean that center toward those with Louisiana roots and Louisiana education careers appointed to run Louisiana education.