HARVEY, La. – The American Federation of Teachers is hitting a local Louisiana school board with both barrels.
The union has spent nearly $450,000 to reclaim a majority on the board, according to campaign finance filings, the Times-Picayune reports.
That’s more than all individual candidate contributions combined.
The AFT Committee for School Board Accountability in Jefferson Parish has so far spent $165,000 on canvassing and online advertising for the candidates that will look out for union interests on the board – leaving it with $281,000 to deluge voters in the final days of the campaign.
The union is seeking to regain control from a majority that turned down a contract with the union in 2012.
Additionally, the paper reports:
Supporters of the board’s current majority say the changes since 2010 have fostered public school progress; the school system rose from a D state letter grade to a B and now has seven A-graded open admissions schools, in addition to eight A-graded schools that select their students.
“It’s just unbelievable, for a local race,” Byron LeBlanc, a political consultant, tells the newspaper.
“When we do a budget, the normal budget that we do for a candidate would be $34,000 or $35,000 probably. That would include consulting, mailouts, yard signs, everything.”
If the union money was split evenly amongst its candidates, they’d receive $89,200 each.
By comparison, the Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee endorsed candidates and gave them $8,000.
“We couldn’t raise $450,000 in two or three years,” says Tony Ligi, executive director of the Jefferson Business Council, according to the paper.
He believes it’s proof the union is trying to buy the election.