This site was built as a response to the lack of representation for the majority of taxpaying citizens on the State of Louisiana’s BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) board. The elections of 2015 and 2011 saw vast influxes of money from out of state interests that dwarfed the fundraising capabilities of most locals.
BESE is an unpaid position but there are only 8 elected positions for the 64 parishes of Louisiana. Each BESE representative needs to be able to reach close at least 100,000 households and many hundreds of thousands of voters. Traditionally this has been done with modest mailings, campaign signs, word of mouth, small gatherings, forums and meet and greets. Those forms of communication gave an opportunity for people to get their name out and a chance to interact with the public.
Today’s BESE elections are all about money. Traditional candidates where outspent hundreds to one in the latest election with millions of dollars of funding from activist billionaires, corporations, and ironically named organizations like “Stand for Children Louisiana” which only advocates for the rights of charter schools and testing companies, not actual children, while the vast majority of their funding, 98%, comes from folks and organizations outside of Louisiana.
In the latest election all 8 candidates are supportive of charter schools and only one candidate opposes Common Core. This is not a balanced or reflective view of the Louisiana electorate. Some of the more recent polls on Common Core in Louisiana (and across the nation) show public sentiment to be overwhelmingly negative. The 7 candidates that were elected were supported with vast sums of money and support from LABI, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, one of the chief supporters of Common Core. Other directly affiliated PACs were also heavily involved. All told, more than 10 million dollars may have been spent by a few groups and organizations who stand to benefit (or who have benefited) from policies, approvals, and standard choices doled out by BESE.
Many of these LABI candidates actually ran on platforms or made claims that they were distancing themselves from Common Core, or that they disapproved of Common Core. Millions of dollars on fancy TV and radio ads and countless enormous digital billboard purchases convinced the public that these folks had their best interests at heart. Many people voted for these candidates on these false pretenses. The LABI candidates never had any intention of representing actual local people; the parents and children in the public school system. BESE was elected to oversee public education, but their objective is to eliminate choices for parents and increase opportunities for vendors to make money from public funds.
The objective of the LABI 7 is to privatize the public system while keeping the funding public and unaccountable to taxpayers and the electorate. Their objective is to direct billions of dollars in public funding to private entities which can then donate to their current or future campaigns and even current and future employment opportunities. Two of these BESE members, Holly Boffy and Kira Orange Jones, actually work for organizations that benefit directly from the decisions they make as BESE members. They also use public roles to actively promote their employers’ causes and goals. This behavior is both reprehensible and unethical by most standards, but not by our State’s Ethics Board which generally only finds the failure to file timely reports as a significant concern.
In response to this lack of public oversight (and the lack of understanding of the general public about all the BESE atrocities being committed in their name) this site was founded to provide oversight for this government body and to give the public an actual voice to be heard. I intend to use this as a platform to reveal unethical and egregious behavior on the part of BESE and its members, to give warning and guidance on pending legislation and BESE hearings, and to give the public a chance to sound off on their thoughts about BESE decisions or policy.
In the near future I will be providing contact info and guidance on how to submit articles and opinions for submission and consideration. Not all of them will be endorsed by this blog, but I do believe we need to hear and consider the opinions of others, not just those who agree with us or who happen to give us money as is the case with the current BESE board.
In addition to this blog I have also created an associated:
Facebook page: 12th BESE
Twitter Account: @12thBESE