Why is so much money being funneled into an election to a board that pays no salary? And why is the mayor of New York City so interested in Louisiana's public schools that he donated $100,000 to a group that is dedicated to stacking that same board?
Those are just two of the questions swirling around the 2011 election to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. As EdLog has noted before, BESE has risen higher than ever before on the political radar screen.
At the heart of the issue is Gov. Bobby Jindal's desire to have complete control of the state school board, and the ability to name the next superintendent of schools. That requires eight votes on an 11-member board.
The governor appoints three members. The rest are elected. And the person chosen by the governor to be the next state superintendent is a former deputy chancellor of the New York City school system.
Mayor Bloomberg's donation was to the Alliance for Better Classrooms. It was formed by multimillionaire Lane Grigsby in order to elect BESE members who would adhere to a rigid corporatist ideology and support the governor's agenda.
Which helps to explain why a state school board race is being shaped by forces from far outside the borders of Louisiana, from all the way to the halls of power in New York City.