Public Hearing Set for August 25

The official public comment period for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (BESE’s) proposed new regulations to grant high school diplomas to students who have failed state tests has closed. Sixteen letters – eight from individual citizens and eight from organizations that represent or advocate on behalf of students, employers, and the well-being of Louisiana, weighed in. You can read the letters here.

None expressed support for the proposed policy. In fact, most conveyed grave concerns for the proposal’s potentially devastating impact on Louisiana’s students, workforce, and economic competitiveness.

In addition to Pelican Institute, the organizations that provided feedback included:

  • Baton Rouge Alliance for Students
  • Business Council of New Orleans
  • Council for a Better Louisiana
  • Education Reform Now – Louisiana
  • ExcelinEd in Action (affiliated with the national Foundation for Excellence in Education)
  • Greater New Orleans, Inc. Regional Economic Development
  • Louisiana Association of Business and Industry

Together, these groups and citizens prompted BESE to schedule a public hearing on the matter, which has been set for Friday, August 25, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. Details are posted on the BESE website. Any interested person, regardless of whether they submitted a letter, may attend the hearing an provide verbal testimony on the proposed policy. The public can also watch the hearing online.

In an email sent from BESE’s executive director on August 9, BESE members were told: “As a reminder, BESE members are not required to attend, and obviously, no discussion will occur and no votes will be recorded. This hearing is simply a time for public comment to be presented for the formal record, which will be presented to BESE at the October 2023 Academic Goals and Instructional Improvement Committee, and subsequently forwarded to the House and Senate Education Committees.”

Further, “At the October 2023 meeting, BESE will consider whether or not the Notice of Intent (NOI) will become Final Rule, which will be part of the formal record forwarded to the Legislature. The Legislature could choose to convene its own hearing.”

While current law may not require members of the state’s education board to show up to hear testimony from the public on such an important matter, we hope they do, and we hope the feedback received causes them to reconsider this misguided proposal. The future of Louisiana and its next generation are at stake.