Letter to the Editor: Lewis not seeking re-election

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Jada Lewis, BESE District 8 Secretary Treasurer

After much thought, I have decided not to seek re-election for another term on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). I am honored to have served the students, educators, parents, and other stakeholders throughout District 8's 14 parishes and 17 school systems. I will take this time to reflect and focus on exploring new leadership and public service opportunities that will make a positive impact and continue moving education in Louisiana forward. In addition to serving District 8, it has been a privilege to serve as BESE Secretary/Treasurer, and I thank my BESE colleagues and our staff for their passion, professionalism, and expertise as we served Louisiana's 700,000+ students and educators.

Throughout my time on BESE, I have sought to be an independent, consistent, and effective advocate and policymaker on issues critical to advancing education equity and excellence for all children, including:

---Increased funding to public schools and educators: BESE's 2019-2020 school funding formula passed by the state legislature provides $1,000 pay raises for educators and $500 for support staff, including an additional $39 million for local district support.

---Greater STEM education and workforce development resources: I served on the La STEM Advisory Council, created to accelerate and coordinate statewide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiatives, including diploma endorsements for high school students who demonstrate achievement in STEM subjects, and related resources, training, and information to help students succeed.

---Postsecondary credentials for all – college, career and technical training: I supported expanding Jump Start graduation pathways for high wage, high demand jobs and the development of Jump Start 2.0 to prepare more students for college and career success.

---Competent and trained teachers: I supported policy for Louisiana’s nationally recognized teacher residency model, designed to ensure that new teachers are ready for the classroom.

---Greater accountability at all levels: I supported the development and implementation of Louisiana's Every Student Succeeds Act plan to improve accountability and ensure equity in education for all students.

---High academic standards: Louisiana's LEAP 2025 revamp ensures that students are moving towards "mastery," on grade level, and prepared for college or careers.

---School choice: I supported expanding quality school choice options for families, and closing schools that were not serving students well. I also supported expanding resources for persistently struggling schools to create "innovation and improvement" networks.

Louisiana has made tremendous progress in education over the last three and half years. I am committed to continuing to play an active role as we work to help our students reach their full academic potential, and successfully pursue the exciting career opportunities of the future. Thank you for your support and the privilege to have served you.

Jada Lewis

BESE District 8, Secretary and Treasurer