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Louisiana School Board Association

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BESE President Live....Supports Tammie McDaniel - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

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BESE President Live

Supports Tammie Mc Daniel

            Keith Guice, president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, today, in a live cable interview with the editorial board of the Monroe News-Star, said that the embattled BESE member is “the hardest working member of BESE.”

            Tammie Mc Daniel, an appointee of Gov. Bobby Jindal, was asked by Steve Waguespack to resign her post for failing to embrace administration education reform.

            In response to News-Star editor’s question, Guice said that he knows of no single failure on Mc Daniel’s part to vote for administration reform. 

            He characterized the potential loss of Mc Daniel as a significant loss to BESE and to public education in Louisiana.

            The BESE President also cited his hope that the current movement toward a new and fairer accountability system assumes a higher level of proactivity.  He believes that a growth or value added system would be fairer and more accurate.

            Asked if BESE was satisfied with the performance of Paul Pastorek as Superintendent of Education, Guice provided a measured and guarded response.  “Sometimes his leadership style gets him way out ahead of the board, and that creates problems for him and for BESE,” he added.

            Guice sees one significant problem to come as the lack of plans to return RSD schools to their district of origin.  He noted that he’d heard Pastorek promise that, but so far has seen no plans.  He noted that plans for take-over of under-achieving schools are clear, but that return plans are not clear.

            He also said that RSD was to take over the lowest performing schools to be developed as models that other under-achieving schools might emulate.  He expressed reservations about their performance in spite of inequitable funding.  He noted that RSD New Orleans schools operate on about $15,000 per student, while other local school districts operate on far less.

            He said that we cannot envision equality in funding if the RSD spending is what the leaders believe to be necessary to provide an excellent education to all Louisiana children.

            Moreover, he said, the administration budget is still not understandable.  The RSD is budgeted for $176 million, but HB1 sets a cap of over $300 million.  The RSD is given a $12.5 million benefit as payment for insurance; and, another $4.5 million for lagging student remediation.  The rest of Louisiana’s public schools had their remediation budget completely removed.

            He also told the editors of his fear for the MFP two years from now.  He reported that $100 million had been cut from the MFP and that $100 million in short term federal stimulus dollars were plugged in as replacement.  Two years from now, when the stimulus funding is gone, he forecast serious troubles in replacing those dollars cut from the MFP.

            Guice also called for more school guidance counsel for all students.  He noted that the BESE move toward national counsel standards is only part of what is needed.  He believes that counsel for students is a major part of the state dropout reduction program, but that money is insufficient to reach national standards.