(Courtesy of The Advocate)
Prodded by Gov. Bobby Jindal, a veteran member of Louisiana’s top school board changed her mind and will run for another term.
The action points up the higher-than-normal profile of this year’s races for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Glenny Lee Buquet, a BESE member since 1992 and a former president, earlier announced that she would leave the panel after this year. But after talks with Jindal, his staff and others, Buquet had a change of heart.
“I had so many people call,” she said Tuesday.
In an unusual move, Jindal’s office issued a news release on Monday praising Buquet’s reversal.
“I asked Glenny to strongly consider running again because we are at such an important point for Louisiana’s education system,” Jindal said in a prepared statement.
For her part, Buquet said in an interview Tuesday that she was “very concerned about what direction” BESE would take and decided to run again.
BESE sets policies for an estimated 668,000 public school students statewide.
Eight of the panel’s 11 members are on the Oct. 22 primary ballot.
The governor names the other three members.
However, a rash of 6-5 votes on key issues and other factors have set off an election year tug-of-war.
On one side is Jindal and a group of self-styled reformers who favor more school changes.
On the other side is a coalition of teacher unions, superintendents and school board members who contend some of Louisiana’s recent school changes are misguided.
The outcome of this year’s races will also help decide who is picked as the next state superintendent of education.
Buquet is considered closer to Jindal’s camp than the alliance of teacher unions and others.
Don Whittinghill, a consultant with the coalition of teachers and superintendents, said his side has not seen Buquet as an ally in recent years.
“We rarely saw her voting with us, although she has talked in a friendly way to our members,” Whittinghill said.
Of the eight BESE seats on next month’s primary ballot at least six are expected to be competitive.
Buquet’s District 3 post was considered wide open until she announced plans to seek another term.
Jindal is expected to get involved in the races, especially because he has been unable to gain the eight votes needed for his choice to be the next state superintendent of education.
The governor favors John White, who is superintendent of the Recovery School District, which oversees troubled public schools taken over by the state.
However, four BESE members have said they will not vote for White.
Ollie Tyler is serving as acting superintendent after the resignation of former Superintendent Paul Pastorek.
A permanent replacement is expected to be named in January when the new board takes office.