State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members arrived in town today.  One order of business was to recognize four Caddo Parish schools that saw double-digit increases in standardized test scores.  But BESE President Chas Roemer tells KEEL Morning News that's not the only reason he's here.  He also wants to see how our Caddo and Bossier Parish schools are doing, what's working, and what still needs tweaking.  He says he plans to do more listening than talking.

"We've implemented a new teacher evaluation system in this state that I think is critical," Roemer says.  "But I know it's caused a great deal of anxiety and concern amongst those that are in the classroom.  I wanna hear what their concerns are, and make sure that while we are evaluating, that we're doing so fairly."

I asked him what our low-performing schools can do to improve.  He says he's a firm believer in leadership.  "We've gotta look at leadership, both on the parish level and on the school level," Roemer says.  "I think we need to make our schools more autonomous, not micromanage from the board level.  And with that freedom comes some more accountability."

He also says he believes in competition. "The idea that every child's the same, the idea that every kid should go to the same school and be taught in the same way...that's just not relevant anymore," Roemer says.

LISTEN TO PART ONE OF KEEL MORNING NEWS ROEMER INTERVIEW HERE:

Roemer got pretty fired up when asked if the plan would make public schools worse in the long run.  "You know, it's real simple to get a child to go to your school.  Provide a quality education," he says.  "We can't wait ten years to solve our own problems.  Now, I'm pleased that we have a lot of schools that are improving.  And I hope those improvements attract students to those schools.  But until they are competitive, I can't blame somebody for wanting another choice."

HERE'S PART TWO OF OUR INTERVIEW: