Business Lobby Wins Most of Louisiana Education Board Races

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Baton Rouge, La.

Business-backed candidates have won six of seven contested seats for Louisiana's top school board.

The Advocate reports that the winners in Saturday's elections for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education seats were backed by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, the state's top business lobbying organization.

The business-supported candidates defeated rivals backed by the two teacher unions, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators.

Saturday's winners included four incumbents on the education board, known as BESE: Sandy Holloway of Thibodaux, Jim Garvey of Metairie, Kira Orange Jones of New Orleans, and Holly Boffy of Lafayette. Other winners were Preston Castille of Baton Rouge, and Ashley Ellis of Monroe.

One race headed to a Nov. 16 runoff: Business-backed candidate Ronnie Morris will face Gregory Spiers, supported by the unions.

Tony Davis, another business-supported BESE member who lives in Natchitoches, was re-elected in August when no one signed up to run against him. The three remaining members of the 11-member board are named by the governor.

Saturday's victories mean business-backed members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who favor charter schools, school choice, and public school grading based on test scores will control a majority of the board when the new term begins in January. The new lineup also could boost chances that state Superintendent of Education John White will win a contract extension.

Candidates who lost criticized sweeping changes in public schools enacted by the Legislature in 2012 and said test scores prove public school overhauls have failed and charter schools need more accountability.

Most of Saturday's winners enjoyed heftier campaign accounts than opponents, in part because of financial support from the business lobbying organization.

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