Today (Oct 24) is election day in Louisiana. While most of us are glued to a TV screen watching football, our neighbors just down the road will also be heading for the polls. Included on the ballot will be all eight elected seats on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).
The state has been locked in a battle in recent years between those who favor privatization efforts of public schools with charter schools and vouchers, as well as more standardized testing and merit pay for teachers, and those who believe such efforts are misguided, not backed by good research and not good for the majority of students.
The “ed reformers” are supported throughout the country–and in Louisiana–by lots and lots of money. For instance, the latest figures show that millionaires Michael Bloomberg of New York, Eli Broad of California, John Arnold of Texas and Jim and Alice Walton of Arkansas have given more than $2 million to a Louisiana political action committee supporting a slate of candidates for BESE.
(In 2014 Jim Walton gave $150,000 to the Alabama Federation for Children that was spent on legislative campaigns here.)
With four seats on the Alabama State Board of Education up for election in 2016, it will be interesting to see how much out-of-state money shows up here.