Committee rejects measure to make state education superintendent elected position

By By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday rejected a measure that would let voters elect the state education superintendent, a position the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education currently appoints.

The committee voted 4-2 against Senate Bill 41 by Sen. Robert Kostelka, R-Monroe. The constitutional amendment called for the superintendent to be elected to a four-year term.

Kostelka said giving voters a choice would require candidates to "sound off what you're going to do about education."

"The only way to correct this is to give people a real choice (and) a real issue to vote for," he said. "Are you afraid to give people that choice?"

Bob Webber, superintendent of the Ouachita Parish School System, said he supported the measure because it would hold the superintendent accountable to improving education within the state.

"This is what teachers and educators want," he said. "To me, this is an easy thing."

Chas Roemer, BESE president, said that Louisiana has outperformed 12 of the 13 states that elect school superintendents.

"If electing and not electing were the answer, the answer seems to be that not electing is working," he said.

BESE appointed current Superintendent John White in January 2012.

Sen. Eric LaFleur, R-Ville Platte, voted for the measure.