20110914-cover-0108CAN BOFFY BOUNCE BAYARD?
Former Teacher of the Year seeks state school board seat.

Louisiana’s 2010 Teacher of the Year, Holly Boffy has her work cut out for her. Embracing a controversial position early on that the tenure system for public school teachers should be abolished — this will not endear her to the powerful teacher unions in Louisiana — Boffy hopes to unseat an entrenched incumbent in Dale Bayard, who switched political parties at the right time and who is likely to get the backing of the state’s most powerful Christian lobbying group.

Bayard has been a voice on BESE for Louisiana Family Forum, the religious right lobbying group that wants desperately to bring Louisiana back to a bucolic era that never actually existed. He was the lone vote last year for rejecting mainstream science textbooks that teach evolution and more importantly don’t teach Intelligent Design, the creationist-friendly pseudo-science.

Bayard was first elected to BESE’s District 7 seat in 1999. He ran unopposed in 2003. Since his victory in the 2007 election, Bayard has switched to the Republican Party — an act of survival these days for Democrats looking to manage multi-parish races. Four years ago, running as a Dem, Bayard lost badly in Lafayette Parish, the easternmost outpost of the southwest Louisiana District, to Republican and former state party Chairman Charlie Buckels of Lafayette. But the farther west toward his home turf in Calcasieu Parish the race went, the better Bayard did: He and Buckels split Acadia Parish 50-50; but Bayard wiped the floor with Buckels in Jefferson Davis, Cameron and Calcasieu with 63, 64 and 61 percent of the vote respectively, eking out a 51-49 victory.

Boffy has the credentials to make a thoughtful BESE rep for southwest Louisiana, yet at just 33 years old she’s not entrenched in the public-education status quo and is likely willing to stare down some sacred cows. But she will need to do better in the western parishes of the district — much better — if she hopes to put her love of teaching to practice in Baton Rouge. She may have an ace in the hole: Gov. Bobby Jindal is reportedly backing her campaign in an effort to stack the BESE deck with reform-minded members. — WP

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