In his latest blog titled Stay In Your Lane, Governor, education deform blogger, Peter Cook, chastises Governor John Bel Edwards for establishing an Advisory Council for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Cook primarily asserts that the governor has no business sticking his nose in the education policy of the great state of Louisiana. He goes on to say that the Louisiana Constitution gives authority to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to determine education policy, and this process has already begun under the guidance of Superintendent of Education, John White.
Cook is not the first to publicly criticize Edwards over the advisory council. A few legislators who align themselves with the education deform agenda have commented publicly that they question the governor’s motive when the Louisiana Department of Education already has a process in place. Superintendent White, himself, has even commented to that effect. I suppose, much like the young man in the cartoon above, the increase in traffic on the education highway is making them sweat. You can read more about how White’s ESSA review process attempts to give the impression of public input, but is really guided by the deform agenda.
Despite always being ranked at the bottom of whatever list any number of interest groups want to create, Louisiana has a pretty decent searchable website available to access current bills, laws, sessions, legislators and the Constitution. Let’s take a look at what the Louisiana Constitution actually says regarding powers and authority.
Section 5.(A) Executive Authority. The governor shall be the chief executive officer of the state. He shall faithfully support the constitution and laws of the state and of the United States and shall see that the laws are faithfully executed.
(B) Legislative Reports and Recommendations. The governor shall, at the beginning of each regular session, and may, at other times, make reports and recommendations and give information to the legislature concerning the affairs of state, including its complete financial condition.
The two sections above, which are the first two sections of the Governor’s Powers and Duties, pretty much establish the governor’s authority to be in the lane that Cook claims isn’t his. In fact, together, the two sections establish that “all lanes” are his.
Next, let’s take a look at the powers and authority of BESE which is listed further down the Constitution in Article 8, Section 3.
§3. State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Section 3.(A) Creation; Functions. The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is created as a body corporate. It shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction and shall have budgetary responsibility for all funds appropriated or allocated by the state for those schools, all as provided by law. The board shall have other powers, duties, and responsibilities as provided by this constitution or by law, but shall have no control over the business affairs of a city, parish, or other local public school board or the selection or removal of its officers and employees; however, the board shall have the power to supervise, manage, and operate or provide for the supervision, management, and operation of a public elementary or secondary school which has been determined to be failing, including the power to receive, control, and expend state funds appropriated and allocated pursuant to Section 13(B) of this Article, any local contribution required by Section 13 of this Article, and any other local revenue available to a school board with responsibility for a school determined to be failing in amounts that are calculated based on the number of students in attendance in such a school, all in the manner provided by and in accordance with law.
As you can see, at no time does this article spell out BESE’s authority to create anything, although it does supervise and control public schools “as provided by law.” To further establish a lack of authority, you can read Title 17:6 to further understand the powers of BESE.
The General Powers and Authority section is pretty lengthy in its detailed description of what BESE can do under the parameters of the law. I’ll limit the text to the section that matters, but feel free to click the link above to read it in its entirety.
Title 17:6 Section A(10) Adopt, amend, or repeal rules, regulations, and policies necessary or proper for the conduct of the business of the board.
This function is pretty straight forward when read as an extension of the Constitution. BESE has authority to promulgate rules, regulations and policy in accordance with the law. Now, if you read the Governor’s Executive Order that established the task force, you know that they are required to “conduct an extensive review of ESSA” and “make recommendations on specific actions necessary for the implementation of ESSA in Louisiana.” Since it is well within the purview of the governor, I expect that he will then translate those recommendations into proposed legislation. Should the governor’s proposed legislation successfully pass the legislature, BESE’s authority, or rather obligation, will be to promulgate policy as provided by law.