In 2015, the people of BESE District 4 elected me to represent them and – in a vote of confidence I may never have the joy of repeating – the same constituency re-elected me without opposition to a second term. I will never be able to express my gratitude for the trust placed in me to represent the nearly 600,000 citizens of District 4.
In 2020, I was blessed with a new professional role—a role I eagerly pursued—to oversee work I genuinely enjoy; it was a good decision for my family and for my professional career. Over the course of the year, however, my responsibilities have grown to the point that I no longer feel confident that I am putting the time, effort, and energy into the representation for which I was elected and that my constituents deserve. It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter as notice that I will step down from the BESE District 4 seat as of January 20, 2021.
I ran for BESE in 2015 with what I felt was a strong understanding of the role. Looking back, I can say with a smile, “I was wrong.” While the challenges were bigger than I anticipated and the learning curve steeper than I expected, the opportunities to change and shape Louisiana for the better were far more numerous than I could have ever thought possible. To ensure my time in this position was used to create positive change was a responsibility I never took lightly.
Over the past five years as Chair of the Administration and Finance Committee, I have worked with my fellow BESE members and a variety of stakeholders to find consensus where appropriate while holding the line where necessary. I have supported choice for the families of this state, revamped and expanded career training opportunities for students, and led efforts to expand and support early childhood education—all of which are critical to improving Louisianans’ potential for success in life. I have worked with legislative leaders, Department staff, board members, and diverse stakeholders to guide the MFP each year. Through it all, I have fought to ensure we maintain accountability and high expectations for all our students.
Since being elected, I have had the pleasure to serve with two boards comprised of diverse stakeholders with different backgrounds and while we did not always agree on “how” to best serve students, I have never doubted that we all wanted what was best for Louisiana students.
Ultimately, I have weighed each decision I’ve had to make against our students and our future—how do we make both better? I believe I have held true to that standard and leave with only one regret—not being able to finish my obligation to this term and the people of District 4. I wish the best to my fellow BESE members and hope they remember that the children of Louisiana trust them and are relying on them to make the best decisions—not the easy decisions—for enhancing and advancing education in our great state.