Most BESE members, if they’re seeking reelection, are facing opponents. Many of these opponents are going to attack their opponents on Common Core. However, what many of these people are going to do is use their opposition to Common Core to undermine school choice and other education reforms that both Republican and Democratic governors have supported. Conservatives need to beware of these Trojan Horses and start looking at the big picture when they vote on BESE this fall.
The big anti Common Core slate is called “Flip BESE.” Actually, they call themselves “anti Common Core/pro public education” because they’re also against charter schools and vouchers.
Let’s take a closer look at the “Flip BESE” Trojan Horse slate. Here is who they’re backing in each district.
District 1: Lee Barrios
Barrios is a qualifying day conservative who literally became a Republican yesterday. She used to be a pretty hardcore Democrat and shill for the teacher’s unions. Back in 2011, Scott McKay profiled her race. She’s running in a rematch against Jim Garvey, who is actually a conservative.
Some of her rhetoric suggests that this party switch is not genuine. Her website Geaux Teacher features commentary from numerous leftists ranting about the “corporate reform agenda” and how charter schools in New Orleans are part of a plan to drive blacks out of the city. She’s as much of a conservative as Forest Wright was when he switched parties last year to run for PSC.
District 2: Kara Washington
Washington is taking on a pro-reform Democrat, Kira Orange Jones. As of writing, Washington hasn’t even qualified for the race.
Judging by her Facebook page’s lack of activity, who knows if she actually will qualify. We’ll skip her for now.
District 3: Lottie Beebe
Beebe is the current BESE member for District 3. She’s also a Republican but we’re not really sure why. Here’s what she says about charter schools:
Current state education policy favors for-profit, out-of-state corporations that take our tax dollars and fail to address our most at-risk population. I support the rights of local elected officials (school boards) to grant charters, but oppose the current state policy that allows BESE to grant charters to (for-profit) charter operators that are rejected by local school districts.
These are teacher union shill talking points. If this policy was adopted, charter schools and school choice would cease to exist because school boards will not voluntarily subject themselves to competition.
Good news for conservatives in District 3 is that they have an excellent candidate to choose from. Sandy Holloway, who is a lifelong educator, is running to get rid of Beebe. She’s backed by LABI and the education reform community. Holloway would be an excellent addition to BESE.
District 4: Mary Harris
Harris was appointed to the District 4 seat earlier this year by Governor Jindal. She opposes Common Core, but also more disturbingly she has criticized the teacher accountability standards. She has also said that students are “over-tested” which is nonsense. Harris probably not as offensive as the rest of the “Flip BESE” bunch, but she’s not a strong supporter of education reform.
Her opponent, Glynis Johnston, is not much of an improvement. She too is an opponent of Common Core and is calling herself “the people’s voice, not Jindal’s choice.”
Conservatives should hold out hope that someone else will qualify for this race.
District 5: Johnny Fatheree
We’re trying to figure out how Johnny Fatheree is even qualified to run for this position. By his own press release, he admits he has no background in education. His wife though is a retired special needs teacher. His daughter was also a special needs student before her passing. He’s clearly passionate about the issue and his opposition to Common Core.
However, passion alone about an issue does not make one qualified to serve on BESE. Fatheree’s Facebook page is truly a tin foil nutter’s paradise. He has a post claiming that Common Core requires the teaching of Islam (hint, it doesn’t.)
His opponent, former Rapides Parish Superintendent Gary Jones, also has a record of opposing education reform.
District 6: Jason France
While most of these guys are phony Republicans, “Flip BESE” did themselves even better in this district. They went out and got a phony Libertarian by the name of Jason France. France is probably the first Libertarian opponent of school choice ever. France appears to be an opponent of any kind of accountability standards in general. He wants to reduce testing and eliminate the Recovery School District.
Jason France is the perfect candidate, for teachers’ unions and local bureaucrats.
District 7: Mike Kreamer
The current BESE member for District 7 Holly Boffy is an outstanding advocate for children. She is a strong supporter of high standards and school choice. She has earned reelection based on her own merits.
That’s especially true when you consider her opponent, Mike Kreamer. Kreamer is another phony Republican who opposes school choice. Kreamer has gone further and called charter schools “predatory.” Sounds like yet another perfect “Flip BESE” candidate.
District 8: Carolyn Hill
Carolyn Hill has been an embarrassment for Louisiana’s children on BESE. She’s been consistenly opposed to high standards and school choice. She needs to be replaced, which means “Flip BESE” supports her.
LSU Assistant Dean of Engineering Jada Lewis has qualified against her. Her platform is supporting more education in STEMs, which is a very worthy goal.
Conservatives need to be aware of these hard left “anti Common Core” Trojan Horses. If we’re not careful this fall, Louisiana’s successful education reforms could be undone by the teachers’ unions and their allies. If that happens, all of Louisiana’s children will suffer because conservatives were too focused on Common Core and forgot their own principles.