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Election 2015: BESE District 1 – Garvey vs. Barrios A Look At The Choice Facing Voters in Jefferson, Orleans & St. Tammany

BESE’s District 1 race is a no-brainer.

The contest is a rematch of the 2011 election, once again pitting incumbent Jim Garvey, an attorney from Metairie first elected to the board in 2007, against Lee Barrios, a former St. Tammany Parish middle school teacher. Four years ago, Garvey easily won reelection in the first round with 58% of the vote; Barrios mustered only 12%.

Garvey trounced two opponents in 2011.
Garvey trounced two opponents in 2011.

Garvey, a Republican, has been a steadfast supporter of the reforms that have resulted in the academic gains Louisiana has witnessed over the past decade. Barrios, on the other hand, has railed against virtually every education policy embraced by BESE in the past four years. She opposes Common Core, accountability, standardized testing, and charter schools. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Barrios is strongly backed by the state’s teachers unions, as well as Diane Ravitch.

BESE District 1 covers St. Tammany and parts of Jefferson and Orleans.
BESE District 1 covers St. Tammany and parts of Jefferson and Orleans.

Although Barrios ran as an independent in 2011, she is now running as a Republican (after briefly declaring herself a Democrat back in February). However, her shifting party allegiance hasn’t translated into a noticeable increase in support. As of September 25th, Garvey had almost $220,000 in his campaign account, while Barrios had raised just under $3000.

It’s just as well. Louisiana needs to continue on the path forward in public education and that’s why District 1 voters should cast their ballots for Jim Garvey.

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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  1. Garvey has NEVER done anything for STPSB. In fact when he was asked any questions by the board, he never had an answer. Oh yeah he did, it was UHHHH, I’m not aware of that or I’ll have to get back to you.

  2. You sir, are an idiot–
    The grassroots has grown since last election, while Garvey continued doing a lot, but nothing good.
    Support has grown immensely, and thats why Garvey is running scared.
    Because truth is….all the big ugly signs with his geeky mug in the world cannot beat teachers, their friends and families, school boards and their connections, the unions that have huge influence, and most of all–THE PARENTS THAT ARE TIRED OF THE CRAP IN THE SCHOOLS going on with their children. Do you get kickbacks from Charter CEO’s, too, sir?
    Its going to be a great Oct 24th!. Now quit talking immature crap about people, and go out and get some votes for your boy…….he’s really going to need them this time.

  3. I was endorsed by St. Tammany Republican Executive Executive Committee, GatorPAC/Rob Maness, St. Tammany Parish School Board Members, Yes – LFT, LAE, Given a “Please Consider” by Jefferson Parish DPEC . . . Peter when you all play the union card you fail to mention that Garvey sought and received the endorsement of SEIU in 2011. It’s not about teachers. It’s about contracts for services provided to charters. Don’t know this year. Then of course while Garvey claims to be a Republican he supports the same failed reforms of Obama, Mary Landrieu and all White’s Dem critic friends from NYC like the big BESE funder Michael Bloomberg. How about we talk about the issues, not the politics.

    • I didn’t play the “union” card, Lee. I specifically said, “Barrios is strongly backed by the state’s teachers unions” – emphasis on teachers union – I don’t have a beef with unions, more generally.

      I’m confused when you say you want to talk about issues, not politics right after saying it’s “about contracts for services provided by charters” – insinuating somehow that Garvey is benefitting from charter school contracts? How do you figure? What evidence do you have that Garvey is benefitting from charter contracts for services?

      Finally, “White’s Dem critic friends from NYC” wouldn’t include Bloomberg, since he ran as a Republican.

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