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, 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.
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.