Warning! The following blog is long, but the information is critical to saving our educational system. Please do your best to read it through to the end.
For those of you who don’t know what BESE is, or its purpose, I’ll try to explain it in layman’s terms without getting too bogged down in the details. Simply put, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (aka BESE) is a buffer between local education agencies (school boards) and the legislation that affects education. BESE’s job is the develop education policy and disseminate it to the school districts so that they can stay within the law while administering their locally controlled school systems.
Members of BESE are elected by their constituents in their district to represent them in matters of policy. Louisiana is divided into 8 BESE districts. In addition, three members are appointed by the Governor, “at large” to serve the entire state. Although members of BESE do not receive a salary, they do receive a per diem for meeting days and reimbursement for mileage. It is essentially a non-paid position that is generally pursued by people who are concerned with public education; some, more than others.
In future posts, we will discuss other BESE districts, but for now, we will focus on District 7. Dale Bayard, a business man from Lake Charles, had held the District 7 position for more than ten years. Though challenged before, Bayard maintained his position with relatively little effort. Completely blindsided, he was defeated in 2011 by challenger, Holly Boffy. Let’s look at how that unfolded.
The 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions resulted in unprecedented attacks on the public education system. Bills were passed that changed the way teachers were evaluated placing an enormous amount of emphasis on the scores that a teacher’s students received on high stakes tests. Of course, when you think about it, the best teacher in the world has no control over the self-discipline, motivation or intentions of students taking a test. In addition, bills were passed allowing tax money collected by the state and local school districts to not only follow a child to a charter school, but also to a private school which, essentially, makes it no longer private. Extreme efforts to derail teacher unions and effectively render teachers unable to defend themselves against these changes. These changes are all part of the “education reform” agenda, and they funded by non-profit organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation and Michael Bloomberg. They enlist the Chamber of Commerce to push their agenda to give some notion of credibility to the public because it is supported by the Chamber. The Louisiana Chamber, now known as the Louisiana Alliance of Business and Industry (LABI) viciously and aggressively lobbies legislators to support education reform.
The general public didn’t know what was happening. To most, the only thing heard was promises to give parents a choice in where their child goes to school, better education and promising futures. The reformers knew. They also knew that no matter what laws were passed, they wouldn’t be able to get their agenda to trickle down to local schools if they didn’t have the support of BESE and the local school districts. So, they simultaneously launched a plan to dominate those elections. Which is how the District 7 member, Holly Boffy, came to be.
Who is Holly Boffy? What is her background? Let’s start there. Holly Boffy was a teacher in Lafayette Parish. She first became certified to teach in 2001. She taught briefly in East Baton Rouge, then moved back to Lafayette and taught 7 1/2 years for a total of just under ten years. At some time during her ninth year of teaching, Boffy decided to leave teaching and took a job with A+PEL as the director of professional development and university programs. The Association of Professional Educators in Louisiana (A+PEL) is the only “teacher organization” that isn’t actually a union. They also happen to be hugely involved in the education reform movement, though they proclaim that they do not lobby. It is unknown if Boffy was aware of this when she left teaching for the position with A+PEL, but we do know that near the end of her teaching tenure, she was nominated as “Teacher of the Year” which is supported by A+PEL and the Chambers of Commerce. Perhaps she was recruited? Who knows? But it is a fact that shortly after joining A+PEL in January 2011, Boffy announced her candidacy for BESE District 7.
As mentioned before, incumbent Bayard, was totally unaware of what was in motion. Obviously, the general public saw Boffy’s background in education as a plus to take under serious consideration; however, nobody anticipated the media blitz that came with the Boffy campaign. Bayard continued to approach the election as he always had. He stayed in touch with previous supporters. He gathered modest donations. In total, he reported approximately $30,000 was raised for his campaign, roughly $8000 was his own personal funds. In general, a large sum of money for an elected position that receives no salary.
Meanwhile, advertising for Boffy was saturating television, radio, print media, billboards and yard signs. In retrospect, It seems as though the public merely saw her as motivated to win and, apparently, dedicated to the position. What nobody knew, or seemed to care, was that Boffy had amassed in excess of $226,000 in campaign money, none of which came from her personal funds. Again, for an elected position that receives no salary. Ask yourself, how would a relatively unknown former school teacher be able to garner support from these donors to that extreme? She sold her soul to the devil. That’s how. She agreed to further their agenda, and that, she has.
Since being elected, Boffy has rarely met with the actual constituents who were manipulated into voting for her. We don’t have info on other parishes, but it has been reported in Calcasieu parish that the only appearances made are at civic meetings with groups like Alliance SWLA, Stand for Children (funded by Gates) and the Kiwanis Club.. It appears that Boffy is confused about who she represents. It is the students, the parents and the community members who are true customers, not business and industry.
In closing, here is a brief list of things accomplished by Boffy since becoming a member of BESE.
- Voted to implement Common Core Standards in Louisiana.
- Voted to approved every Type II charter school application that was turned down as a Type I by the local school board.
- Took a job with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) which is one of the leading organizations promoting education reform.
- Joined Superintendent John White and BESE President, Chas Roemer, in a lawsuit against Gov. Jindal when he attempted to withdraw from Common Core.
The list goes on and on. Please take all of this information into consideration. Do not allow the education reform agenda to move forward in Louisiana.