Electing the education superintendent

by Leslie Turk

Hot-button education issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools have some lawmakers pushing to scrap the appointing process and go back to electing the state's super.

At one time, Louisiana's superintendent of education was elected by the people, but the Legislature made it an appointed position more than two decades ago amid criticism that the school system was floundering.

With voter angst growing over a variety of issues ranging from Common Core to charter schools, some lawmakers believe it might be time to review the issue and consider making the position elected once more.

Education Superintendent John White

While it probably won't be popular with Education Superintendent John White and the man who appointed him, Gov. Bobby Jindal, the bills up for debate this session are in the form of constitutional amendments, which are veto-proof.

Rep. Joe Harrison, R-Napoleonville, has filed such proposals several times over the years, always failing to gain support. He's back again with another constitutional amendment this year, but so is Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, who has never tried his hand at the issue.

Geymann also has a bill to force the three at-large members of BESE who are currently appointed by the governor to run for election, too. If that doesn't work, Geymann has a separate measure to abolish BESE altogether.

"It's nothing personal," Geymann said. "People are just more active and energized about education right now. They're running up against the wall and can't hold anyone accountable."