Calling it “perhaps the most-watched race” for a spot on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, The Times-Picayune reports District 7 BESE candidate and former teacher Holly Boffy has so far raised roughly $49,000 in campaign contributions, more than 14 times the $3,450 raised so far by incumbent Dale Bayard of Sulphur.

Boffy, a 33-year-old Abbeville native and 2010 Teacher of the Year, has been actively spreading her platform across Southwest Louisiana since announcing her candidacy, quickly coming out strong against teacher tenure and other critical reform issues being touted by Gov. Bobby Jindal and his administration.

Jindal, who gave Boffy the official nod of approval when he included her in his lengthy list of endorsements for most statewide and legislative races, has also contributed $5,000 to Boffy’s campaign, according to The T-P:

While the Legislature charts the course of education with laws, BESE and the state Department of Education implement the policies with rules and regulations. BESE also approves the person who serves as superintendent of education. That post was vacated in May by Paul Pastorek, an attorney who returned to more lucrative work in the private sector. Pastorek, a former BESE member, was long a supporter of the changes questioned by the Coalition. Jindal wants to replace him with John White, now head of the state agency that oversees most New Orleans Schools. But approval requires a two-thirds BESE vote and, despite his three appointments to the body, Jindal so far doesn’t have the votes for approval.

Jindal’s campaign, with no strong opposition as the Oct. 22 election nears, already has put thousands into the race. A new political action committee formed to influence the eight BESE races — the Alliance for Better Classrooms — reported last week raising more than $210,000, including a $100,000 loan from Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby.

PACS for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry also are expected to get involved in the race.

On the other side is a coalition of teacher unions, local school board members, administrators and other education interests that make up the Coalition for Louisiana Public Education, which casts the move to turn over more schools to charter organizations as “privatization” and questions whether charters and other elements of the state accountability system are reaping real benefits.

Boffy, who was named Teacher of the Year for her work at Paul Breaux Middle School, was recognized Sept. 22 by The Independent’s sister publication, ABiz, as a 2011 Women who Mean Business honoree. Read more about her recognition here.

Read more on the BESE race here.

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