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Why is LAE’s President Insulting Holly Boffy?

The website of the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) went down Monday morning after the state Department of Administration (DOA) failed to pay the site’s annual $280 domain fee. By midday, LDOE’s website was back online after DOA officials scrambled to make payment on the past-due bill.

While DOA Communications Director Meghan Parrish attributed the problem to a “technical glitch” and maintained, “this is not purposeful,” the timing of the website’s shutdown raised the question of whether the Jindal Administration is engaging in dirty tricks. For months, LDOE and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) have been embroiled in a bitter fight with the Jindal Administration over the Common Core State Standards.

Whether intended or not, LDOE’s critics responded to news of the website’s takedown with an outburst of schadenfreude on social media – including Louisiana Association of Educators (LAE) president, Debbie Meaux. A reader brought my attention to comments Meaux made yesterday on the page of Facebook group, LA Public Teachers: Our Classrooms are Not for Sale!, in which she jokes about the issue before taking the opportunity to insult BESE member Holly Boffy.

Debbie Meaux's famous last words: "If this site is being monitored, I'm in trouble..."
Debbie Meaux’s famous last words: “If this site is being monitored, I’m in trouble…”

Responding to a post on the LDOE website debacle, Meaux at first makes a relatively tame (if silly) comment:

“The bill was paid and the website reclaimed by the state department. But if had I known, I would have snatched it up and held it for ransome [sic]!”

Meaux's initial comment on Facebook.
Meaux’s initial comment on Facebook.

However, Meaux’s second comment goes too far. In response to an earlier remark which mockingly asked, “I wonder if Holly Boffy Teacher of the Year can help?!? Bahahahaha. (It was time for a Holly joke!),” Meaux ironically says:

“If this site is being monitored, I’m in trouble, Deanna, but Holly [Boffy] is a joke. And I can say that because she is from my parish. I always feel as though I should apologize to the state for her idiocy.”

Meaux's second comment attacking BESE's Holly Boffy.
Meaux’s second comment attacking BESE’s Holly Boffy.

While it’s incredible that the head of one of the state’s largest teachers unions would think it was appropriate to publicly insult a BESE member, it’s not necessarily surprising that Boffy would be the target of Meaux’s ire. Boffy has emerged as one of the board’s most outspoken supporters of Common Core, which both LAE and the Louisiana Federation of Teachers unsuccessfully sought to derail during the recent legislative session.

On the other hand, Meaux’s behavior does help explain why LAE’s membership has fallen by 20% over the past five years: teachers must be deciding that their money is worth more than a few cheap shots.

Holly Boffy, who was elected to BESE in 2010, has been a outspoken supporter of Common Core.
Holly Boffy, who was elected to BESE in 2010, has been a outspoken supporter of Common Core.

Written by Peter Cook

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.

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