Statement from BESE President regarding Board's opposition to HB 564

Apr 27, 2021, 14:31 PM by BESE Admin

The Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) officially voiced its opposition to House Bill 564 by State Representative and House Education Committee Chairman Ray Garofalo today at the Louisiana Legislature. The bill, which addresses training at K-12 schools and postsecondary education institutions with respect to certain concepts related to race and sex, was voluntarily withdrawn by the author pending further dialogue on the issue.

BESE President Sandy Holloway, on behalf of BESE leadership including Vice President Kira Orange Jones and Secretary-Treasurer Ashley Ellis, represented the Board on its position and was joined by District 8 Member Preston Castille and At-Large Member Dr. Belinda Davis at today’s House Education Committee meeting.

Holloway issued the following statement regarding the position of the Board:

"BESE thanks Chairman Garofalo for the dialogue regarding this bill. While we greatly appreciate our collaborative relationship in determining how best to advance strong student-centered policies, we have made the decision to oppose HB 564 and are pleased with his decision to voluntarily defer the bill.

As those elected to govern policies for nearly 800,000 Louisiana students, we have heard from educators across the state regarding this bill and the undue burden, risk and stress it could place on them and their school leadership – particularly after what has been an incredibly challenging year. This is especially true for history teachers across the state. If the bill were to pass, how would they have the direction needed to adjust their teaching? More importantly, how would they be able to ensure honesty when teaching history without fear of repercussions? How would every classroom be monitored each day? These questions, currently unanswered, are a cause of concern for teachers and administrators.

Secondly, we are a state that prioritizes – rightfully – local control with regard to curriculum selection and implementation. With districts taking the lead on these decisions, the timeline outlined for implementation is not reasonable to ensure identification, selection, and implementation of new curricula with fidelity. Additionally, the bill puts the state in the driver’s seat with regard to dictating what can or cannot be part of curriculum and taught in the classroom – decisions that are currently and rightfully placed at the local level, and rightfully made closest to the students being served.

Finally, HB 564 is so broadly written that it presents a potential “slippery slope”. Not only does the bill prevent the discussion of “systemic” and “institutionalized” issues that have resulted in harm being done to some in our society, it threatens the ability of our educators to be honest and tell the truth to our students about our nation’s history and those who have worked – and are working together today – to make our nation greater and more united.

The truth is that systemic and institutionalized racism and sexism do exist. Denial of such truth telling – not indoctrination or blaming – prevents our state and country from an important acknowledgement that is required to move into a new day united. We believe this bill would prevent the truth telling and honesty about our past required for writing a brighter future and history for all families here.

We look forward to a continued collaborative working relationship with Representative Garofalo and all members of the Louisiana Legislature to strengthen outcomes for students across Louisiana and to support educators and school leaders in their craft of teaching.”

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For more information, contact:
Kevin Calbert

BESE is the administrative policymaking body for elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana. The Board sets key education initiatives and works to outline an education agenda to achieve continuous improvement of public education as measured by student and school achievement