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Linda Johnson, left, BESE board president, finds what Gov. Kathleen Blanco, center, told her highly amusing as Paul Pastorek, state education superintendent, watches prior to Blanco addressing a 2007 joint meeting of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Board of Regents.

I have had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education under three governors. Gov. Mike Foster appointed me to BESE. I also served under Gov. Kathleen Blanco with whom I developed a lasting friendship, and my last term on BESE was under Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Foster and I had a particularly good working relationship. He was eager to express his concerns for education and what he wanted to accomplish.

The governor and I shared a passion for the education of young children. I passionately believe in an early childhood education as did the governor.

I also admired the staff of the people he hired. I worked closely with Gwen Hamilton and Andy Kopplin. He pushed his education agenda and of course funded those programs close to his heart.

It was a pleasure to talk with him about educational issues and to understand his commitment. During the Foster administration, we crafted the policy that continues to drive education in Louisiana.

I also had the opportunity to get to know and work closely on BESE with Leslie Jacobs and Paul Pastorek. So, I have had the pleasure of serving under two of the finest governors the state has had in my lifetime, one a Republican and one a Democrat. May they both rest in peace.


former BESE president