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 Jindal: Teachers can complain about Common Core
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1 month ago

Jindal: Teachers can complain about Common Core

Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order saying teachers can complain about Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards.

The Republican governor, an opponent of Common Core, said he put out the order Wednesday after teachers said their criticisms of the standards on social media and in public were stifled by school administrators. The complaints were reported by The Town Talk newspaper in Alexandria. Jindal's order says school administrators aren't allowed under state law "to deny a teacher's constitutional freedom of speech."

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks adopted by more than 40 states. Jindal accuses the Obama administration of using Common Core to try to control local education curriculum. But lawmakers and the state education board refused to strip the standards from Louisiana classrooms.

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1 month ago

Stop Common Core Town Hall panel discussion

Geaux Free Town Hall is hosting a Stop Common Core Panel Discussion on October 14.

On the panel will be former US Rep. Jeff Landry, Sen. Elbert Guillory, Rep. Stuart Bishop, Kathryn Goppelt, a chairman and expert on Common Core and the president of Geaux Free TPl Joyce Linde.

The discussion will be held from 6 to 8 pm at the South Regional Library on 6101 Johnston Street in Lafayette.

For more information visit gueaxfreetpl.org.

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2 months ago

Auditor releases nonpartisan brief on Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Questions about the dispute over the Common Core education standards, or still wondering what the standards even are?

Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office on Monday released a nonpartisan overview about the English and math standards used in Louisiana's public school classrooms.

The 30-page report describes development of the standards, gives a sample of the changed teaching and outlines other states' use of Common Core. The report also provides an overview of the Common Core lawsuits filed in Louisiana.

More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted Common Core, which describes what students should know after completing each grade.

Gov. Bobby Jindal opposes the standards, saying the Obama administration has manipulated use of Common Core to try to control local education policy and curriculum.

The auditor's report is available at: http://bit.ly/1payvha .

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2 months ago

Nov. 20 hearing set in Jindal Common Core lawsuit

Gov. Bobby Jindal will have to wait a few months to have his day in federal court in his lawsuit against the Obama administration over the Common Core education standards.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick set a Nov. 20 hearing date to consider the Republican governor's claims.

In his lawsuit, Jindal accuses the U.S. Department of Education of illegally manipulating federal money and regulations to force states to adopt Common Core, by offering $4.3 billion in grants and policy waivers that encouraged states to adopt uniform standards and testing.

Jindal, considering a 2016 presidential campaign, says the Obama administration's actions violate the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

Even opponents of Common Core question the lawsuit's likelihood for success.

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2 months ago

Jindal's visit turns to Common Core press conference

A press conference for Bell Helicopter's new assembly facility in Lafayette turned to questions about Common Core, and Governor Jindal's lawsuit against the Obama Administration.

It was announced today that Jindal is planning to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally using federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing.

Gov. Bobby Jindal says that violates the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

A copy of the draft lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press by Jindal's office. He plans to file it Wednesday in federal court.

Governor Jindal says the lawsuit is not about politics, and when it comes to Common Core he says, "D.C. bureaucrats think they know better than us." The Governor adds, "The Federal Government shouldn't make curriculum decisions in schools."

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3 months ago

White: Ruling lets Common Core test plans resume

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's education chief says a court ruling allows state officials to resume development of Common Core test plans that have been in the making for four years.

But moments after state Superintendent of Education John White's comments Wednesday, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said White's agency runs the risk of using a defective state contract if it proceeds with its exam plans. And she says there could be financial repercussions and other problems in upcoming months.

"We will determine what the questions on the test are," White said. "All of them."

The Advocate reports White and Nichols commented a day after Common Core backers won a court fight over whether assessments for the new standards will unfold as planned. A judge Tuesday issued an injunction lifting the Jindal administration's suspension of state test contracts that White and others planned to use for spring tests.

The lawsuit was filed by parents and teachers, and supported by the state's top school board. It charged that Gov. Bobby Jindal was illegally trying to derail the academic standards and assessments that go with them.

Attorneys for the governor said they will appeal the ruling by state District Judge Todd Hernandez.

White and a majority of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education back the new standards in reading, writing and math, and the tests that Louisiana and other states plan to use. Jindal wants Common Core removed from the state and test plans scrapped.

White and Nichols made their comments in an unusual press conference in which each took turns making comments, then fielding questions.

After the superintendent spoke for nearly 30 minutes, Nichols rebutted several of his points.

White then did the same after Nichols spoke.

White repeatedly cited Hernandez's ruling, which said that the testing agreement with a firm called DRC "was the contract that was intended by all to be used in the implementation of the legal requirement for nationally recognized assessments testing in Louisiana, the education policy established by the Legislature."

Nichols said that, while her office will comply with the judge's ruling, questions remain about the contracts that the state Department of Education plans to use for Common Core exams.

"Our review is there is a defect in the way they have structured the contract," she said of state education officials.

Using it for 2014-15 test questions, she said, could cause problems later on whether state education officials exceeded the scope of the written agreement, and raise the possibility that state funds might have to be recouped.

White, who said earlier that he hoped the issue would now move out of the courtroom, said Nichols' comments were discouraging.

"I am sitting here and I am a little sad and a little disappointed," he said.

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3 months ago

Jindal Administration on Common Core Court Ruling: The Judge is Wrong

A state judge has ruled against Gov. Bobby Jindal in a lawsuit filed by supporters of the Common Core education standards, lifting a contract suspension Jindal enacted to derail the multi-state standards.

Governor Jindal's Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin issued the following statement today on the Common Core court ruling:

"We think this judge is wrong on the facts and the law. Hopefully, he will reconsider this preliminary ruling at the full trial. In the meantime, we will seek a stay of this ruling and an expedited writ to appeal to the First Circuit.

We want to make sure every other agency head in state government knows this judge is wrong. It's not open season on breaking the procurement law.

If this judge's ruling stands, it would cause chaos in state government and bring us back to the old days in Louisiana when it was ok to give no-bid contracts to your friends.

The judge took the arguments from Common Core proponents hook, line and sinker. The Superintendent and BESE President are creating hysteria about one test that is several months away.

They say this is just about standards, and not curriculum. But how could it create chaos months out before a test if it's just about standards? What the proponents of Common Core have proved in this case is that Common Core is about controlling curriculum."

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3 months ago

Judge rules against Jindal in Common Core lawsuit

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A state judge has ruled against Gov. Bobby Jindal in a lawsuit filed by supporters of the Common Core education standards, lifting a contract suspension Jindal enacted to derail the multi-state standards.

Judge Todd Hernandez issued a written ruling Tuesday.

He said Jindal's suspension of contracts the education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with Common Core is causing harm to parents, teachers, administrators and students.

The contract suspension has stalled standardized testing plans for third-grade through eighth-grade students in Louisiana's public schools.

Parents, teachers and a charter school organization sued Jindal after he suspended the contracts, alleging he violated constitutional separations of authority over education policy. The state education board joined in suing Jindal.

Jindal's lawyer says the governor exercised his statutory authority over state contracting.

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3 months ago

BESE effort to hire lawyer faces Jindal resistance

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The state education board has hit a roadblock from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration in its efforts to hire a law firm to pursue a possible lawsuit against the governor.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, whose office reviews state agency contracts, requested more information Thursday from BESE about its lawyer's contract. Nichols says the law firm can't represent a party in "an action adverse to the state."

Meanwhile, Education Superintendent John White told school superintendents he will have a standardized testing plan for schools by mid-August. Jindal has suspended testing contracts because of the Common Core dispute.

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3 months ago

BESE effort to hire lawyer faces Jindal resistance

The state education board has hit a roadblock from Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration in its efforts to hire a law firm to pursue a possible lawsuit against the governor.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.

Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols, whose office reviews state agency contracts, requested more information Thursday from BESE about its lawyer's contract. Nichols says the law firm can't represent a party in "an action adverse to the state." Meanwhile, Education Superintendent John White told school superintendents he will have a standardized testing plan for schools by mid-August. Jindal has suspended testing contracts because of the Common Core dispute.

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4 months ago

Parents, Teachers Sue Gov. Jindal Over Common Core


For the second day in a row, another lawsuit has been filed over Common Core in Louisiana. It's suing Governor Bobby Jindal, and was filed on behalf of parents and teachers who are in favor of the new education standards.
Supporters of Common Core said he's overstepping his legal authority and tampering with education policy. Last month, Jindal suspended contracts associated with Common Core testing, as a way to get Common Core out of Louisiana.
However, Monday, state lawmakers who oppose the standards filed suit against the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, and the state education department, saying they didn't properly enact Common Core.
The dispute leaves standardized testing in limbo, just a few weeks before school begins. For teachers, there's concern when it comes to the future of Common Core in Louisiana.

"I think it's important that teachers know where they're going, and what they have to do for the year, and so we shouldn't be in limbo. We should know at this point exactly, what we need to do for our students," said Danielle Jackson, a teacher at Acadian Middle School.

The dispute between Governor Jindal and BESE has put the brakes on standardized testing plans for third through eighth grades. Teachers like Breyone Carter support common core standards, and feels it's too close to the school year to switch gears.

"I feel like we just wouldn't have enough time to plan. The quality of education would be at stake," said Carter, who's a teacher at Acadian Middle.

But some lawmakers are trying to stop Common Core. Seventeen of them filed a lawsuit on Monday, which says the state education board didn't follow Louisiana law when implementing the new standards in the classrooms. If Common Core standards and curriculums were to leave Louisiana, some would be okay with that.

"My son was in private school. It's way different from what they taught in private school, and it's way different from what I had. It seems like everything is the long way, so I'm kind of freaked out a little bit," said parent Morganne Joseph.

"You have some that are for it, and some that are against it. I don't feel that it's a smart move, not only for our state, but for our country," said Bridget Alfonso, a parent.

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4 months ago

Update: Lawsuit filed against Gov. Jindal over Common Core

Parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards sued Gov. Bobby Jindal Tuesday over his actions against the multi-state standards, accusing him of illegally meddling in education policy.

The lawsuit says the Republican governor and his Division of Administration "have sown chaos in the education system" and violated the Louisiana Constitution by issuing a series of executive orders aimed at undermining Common Core. Jindal's actions don't comply with constitutional provisions that give education policy-setting authority to the Legislature and implementation authority to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, the lawsuit alleges.

"In an attempt to usurp the authority granted to the Legislature and BESE, Defendants have attempted to set their own education policy for students and schools in the State," the lawsuit says.

Jindal, a one-time Common Core supporter and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, now opposes the standards as a federal intrusion into local education, echoing criticisms levied by tea party supporters around the country.

In June, Jindal suspended testing contracts that the state education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with Common Core for the upcoming school year. The governor said the department didn't follow state procurement law and needed to seek competitive bids for the work, but he also acknowledged he took the action to disrupt Louisiana's use of the Common Core standards. Education Superintendent John White and BESE President Chas Roemer said Jindal had overstepped his legal authority. But attempts to broker a compromise have failed, and the board is considering whether to file its own lawsuit against the governor.

The dispute has stalled standardized testing plans for third-through eighth-grades, with school opening in fewer than three weeks.

Jindal's office didn't immediately respond to the allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed by seven parents, two teachers and a charter school management organization. The suit was supported by the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

The Common Core standards, grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math, have been adopted by more than 40 states. But while they were adopted by BESE with little fanfare in 2010, they have since become contentious nationwide.

Jindal and other Common Core critics have been unable to persuade BESE to change course. Lawmakers also upheld use of the standards earlier this year. Tuesday's action was the second lawsuit filed over Common Core in two days. On Monday, 17 state lawmakers who oppose the standards lodged their own legal challenge, saying BESE and the state education department didn't properly enact the standards and seeking their immediate suspension.

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4 months ago

Lawsuit filed against Gov. Jindal over Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A group of parents and teachers who support the Common Core education standards have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal because of his actions against the multi-state standards.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Baton Rouge. It accuses the Republican governor of violating the state constitution by issuing a series of executive orders and contract suspensions aimed at undermining Common Core.

The lawsuit says Jindal's actions don't comply with constitutional provisions that give education policy-setting authority to the Legislature and implementation authority to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

It's the second lawsuit filed over Common Core. On Monday, 17 state lawmakers who oppose the standards lodged their own legal challenge, saying BESE and the state education department didn't properly enact the standards and seeking their immediate suspension.

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4 months ago

Lawsuit filed to stop Common Core use in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Seventeen state lawmakers asked a judge on Monday to end Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards in public schools, saying education leaders didn't properly enact the multistate benchmarks.

Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, who opposes the standards, said the lawsuit was filed in Baton Rouge district court, seeking an immediate suspension of the standards in schools.

"Unless an injunction issues herein by the Court, needless time and resources will be expended in the teaching, testing, learning, and financing of Common Core, all to the detriment of the citizens of Louisiana," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, and the state education department did not follow Louisiana's Administrative Procedures Act for rolling out the new standards in classrooms.

The act requires public notice, a 90-day comment period and legislative oversight, provisions that have been followed prior to other changes that have been made to education standards in Louisiana, the legislators said.

Education board President Chas Roemer and Education Superintendent John White planned a conference call to address the claims.

The legal challenge is part of a continuing struggle over the Common Core standards, which have become controversial since the BESE adopted them in 2010. The standards, grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math, have been adopted by more than 40 states.

Gov. Bobby Jindal, a one-time Common Core supporter and a potential presidential candidate in 2016, now opposes the standards as a federal intrusion into local education, echoing criticisms levied by tea party supporters around the country.

But he and other Common Core critics have been unable to persuade the BESE to change course. Lawmakers also upheld use of the standards earlier this year.

Without following the Administrative Procedures Act, the lawsuit says citizens "were denied their procedural due process rights to have their comments and concerns heard" before adoption and use of the standards.

The lawsuit was filed by 13 Republicans, two Democrats and two legislators without party affiliation.

James Armes, Terry Brown, Henry Burns, Brett Geymann, Johnny Guinn, Lance Harris, Joe Harrison, Kenny Havard, Bob Hensgens, Cameron Henry, Paul Hollis, Barry Ivey, Sam Jones, Rogers Pope, Dee Richard, John Schroder, and Lanar Whitney are the lawmakers who signed the petition.

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4 months ago

Jindal and White meeting today on Common Core dispute

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - After weeks of public disagreement, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Education Superintendent John White are sitting down to talk about standardized testing for the upcoming school year.

At issue in Thursday afternoon's meeting are the Common Core education standards and the education department's plans to use tests aligned to the multi-state benchmarks.

White and a majority of state education board members support Common Core.

Jindal, a one-time Common Core supporter, now opposes the standards as a federal intrusion into local education. He suspended education department testing contracts to undermine plans to purchase Common Core-related testing material.

White says the governor overreached his authority, while Jindal says the education department didn't follow contracting law.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education directed White to try to broker a compromise with the governor.

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4 months ago

Governors group skirts 'radioactive' Common Core

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Facing opposition from staunch conservatives, the Common Core education standards designed to improve schools and student competitiveness are being modified by some Republican governors. They cite concern about the federal government's role in the classroom.

The educational standards were not on the formal agenda during a three-day meeting of the National Governors Association in Nashville, but were discussed along the sidelines of the meeting.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says the words, "Common Core," have become "radioactive," echoing a sentiment from tea party leaders who say the education plan amounts to a federal takeover of local education.

Governors in Indiana, South Carolina and Oklahoma have signed legislation to repeal the standards while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is taking steps to block the use of tests tied to the standards.

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4 months ago

Jindal administration responds to Common Core compromise with more questions

Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration responded this afternoon to a Common Core compromise proposed by the state superintendent and the state education board.

Kristy Nichols, Jindal's commissioner of administration, told reporters on a conference call that she has numerous questions regarding the letter sent to Jindal today by state Education Superintendent John White and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

White and the education board offered in the letter to keep the existing LEAP and iLEAP standardized tests for the upcoming school year, but said the test should be complemented with questions from PARCC tests, which Jindal has vowed to eliminate as part of his stance against Common Core.

Nichols said on the conference call that there is no existing contract with the state Department of Education that allows for the development of testing for the upcoming school year.

She maintains that the contract to which White is referring has been extended through 2015, but the contract only allows for testing through the 2013-2014 school year.

There is another testing contract in place, but Nichols claims that contract also does not cover testing for the upcoming school year.

Nichols also questioned how the PARCC test questions would be acquired or if they have be already since there is no contract with DOE that outlines those services.

"It's interesting to me that DOE has made general statements that they have a contract and it can be used," Nichols said. "It seems ... there's at least a loose interpretation of how they have to follow {state contract law}. That's going to be the focus of my review as we move forward in this process."

Jindal and White are scheduled to meet on July 17 to discuss their battle over Common Core testing.

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4 months ago

BESE offers compromise to Governor Jindal over Common Core

The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is offering a compromise to Governor Jindal via a letter issued today regarding Common Core.

The letter begins by saying the goal was always to raise expectations in Louisiana for literacy and math achievement and to measure students' accomplishments on a level playing field with students across America. They note all parties signed off on the plan to implement Common Core and committed to using the PARCC test to measure success. State offiicals say they have overseen the training of thousands of teachers, an overhaul in the state's curriculum guidance, and a comprehensive upgrade in classroom technology.

However, after state contracts were frozen following Governor Jindal's concern over implementation, a July 17th meeting was called to come up with a compromise between the two parties.

In their letter, dated July 10th, the BESE representatives are asking for the following:

• Allow the contractor that was awarded the testing contract the opportunity to deliver LEAP tests for the 2014-2015 school year.
• To complement the LEAP testing by adding questions Louisiana created that would also fit into PARCC guidelines.

Education officials say this plan would give teachers and parents clarity, as well as comply with the law that 2014-2015 tests measure nationally recognized standards and provide outcomes comparable to those of other states.

The letter is signed by Chas Roemer (BESE President), Jim Garvey (Vice President), and Holly Boffy (Secretary).

Read their letter here: lettertogov.pdf

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4 months ago

Common Core dispute stalls student testing plans

Students head back to Louisiana's public schools in fewer than six weeks, with no decision made about what standardized tests third-graders through eighth-graders will take to measure their learning.

A dispute between Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state's top education leaders over the use of tests tied to the Common Core standards has left testing plans stalled.

The upheaval began when Jindal suspended a contract that Education Superintendent John White intended to use to buy testing material that goes with Common Core.

But lawmakers and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have voted to maintain Common Core.

A special education board meeting didn't end the impasse. Jindal and White are supposed to sit down within two weeks for a meeting seeking compromise.

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4 months ago

BESE votes to hire attorney over Common Core issues

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's top school board took the first steps toward a possible lawsuit challenging Gov. Bobby Jindal's efforts to derail the Common Core education standards in public schools.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 6-3 Tuesday to hire outside lawyers for guidance. But no legal action could be taken against the Republican governor without another board vote.

Meanwhile, the board instructed Education Superintendent John White to try to negotiate a compromise with Jindal over what standardized tests will be used in the upcoming school year.

Jindal suspended a contract to keep the education department from buying testing material tied to Common Core, to undermine use of the education standards.

White and BESE President Chas Roemer said Jindal overstepped his legal authority. A majority of BESE members support Common Core.

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4 months ago

Education board considers next move on Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's education board is considering its next move in a fight with Gov. Bobby Jindal over the Common Core education standards in public schools, which the governor once supported and now is trying to derail.

Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is holding a special meeting Tuesday to consider responses to Jindal's efforts, including whether to file a lawsuit. The fight centers over who has the authority to determine what standardized tests are used in the state's schools.

The Republican governor has suspended a state contract to keep the education department from buying testing material for third-graders through eighth-graders that is tied to Common Core. Jindal says the department didn't follow state procurement law in choosing the standardized test it would use.

BESE President Chas Roemer and Education Superintendent John White say the governor has overstepped his legal authority. They say they intend to push forward with the multi-state education standards in Louisiana's schools.

A coalition of Louisiana business, civic and education groups that support Common Core, including chambers of commerce from around the state, called on BESE to go to court to resolve the dispute. They said that derailing the education standards would cause "confusion and chaos" in schools and that Jindal is using "inappropriate executive overreach."

"We are asking that BESE take the appropriate steps today to resolve whatever real or perceived issues there may be about its legal authority by seeking a judgment from the courts. We believe that is the absolutely critical next step," the more than three dozen organizations wrote in a statement.

Three BESE members who oppose Common Core - Lottie Beebe, Carolyn Hill and Jane Smith - say the 11-member education board should not be discussing possible litigation. They say the board should be talking about what test to use now that Jindal has blocked the Common Core-tied test.

Students return to school in about six weeks.

The Common Core standards were developed by states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers, and more than 40 states have adopted the grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in math and English.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. But criticism has grown as President Barack Obama's administration encouraged states to use the standards.

Jindal, a one-time supporter of the standards, now says the federal government is trying to use Common Core to control local curriculum and educational systems. Roemer says Jindal has reversed course as a way to try to curry favor with conservatives who could help bolster the governor's likely 2016 presidential bid.

Jindal can't directly shut down use of the multi-state standards in classrooms, and lawmakers rejected attempts earlier this year to replace Common Core with Louisiana-specific education standards.

White and Roemer point to a 2012 law that spells out Louisiana must use nationally recognized content standards, and they say the authority for setting standards rests with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. A majority of BESE's members support Common Core and recently took votes reaffirming the commitment.

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4 months ago

Forty lawmakers unite over Common Core debate

Forty state lawmakers (35 state representatives and five state senators) have issued a joint statement regarding the battle between Gov. Bobby Jindal and Education Superintendent John White over Common Core:

The joint statement is as follows:

The extreme rhetoric and negative tone that has come to dominate the debate over Common Core is counterproductive to a successful resolution of the issue in the best interest of Louisiana students. This same negative tone and rhetoric in response to Governor Jindal's announcement isn't constructive either.

While there are strong feelings on all sides of the issue, it's impossible to deny that there is tremendous confusion and genuine concern about both the roll-out, and the long-term impact of Common Core.

On this issue, we believe the Governor made the right decision. We also believe the evolution of his thinking on Common Core is sincere. In his travels, he has surely seen the concern about Common Core among teachers and parents all across the country as well as here in Louisiana. This concern can be found across the political spectrum - from Tea Party conservatives, Republicans, Independents and more than a few Democrats.

This issue is part of an important national debate over the future of public education in America. It isn't just happening here. It's happening in states all across the country that are having second thoughts about Common Core.

There are responsible people with genuine objections on both sides of this issue. Regardless of one's stand on Common Core, it is irresponsible to simply ignore the real concerns of thousands of teachers and the parents of tens of thousands of school children in our state.

The Federal government has been steadily expanding its grip on public education for the last 40 years. The Race to the

Top program is the latest example of using Federal funds to entice, and then lock in, states. The PARCC testing regime, for example, was developed with Race to the Top dollars.

These programs seem to be designed to expand Federal control of public education in states and localities under the guise of "academic rigor."

Education is big business. An unholy alliance of Federal government bureaucrats and large educational product and service companies threatens to focus elementary and secondary education in Louisiana on the use of their educational products and services to support the new standards, rather than the needs of our students.

That may be why there are real questions about the motives of many of the private sector participants in the CCSS development process.

We thank the Governor for utilizing the tools available to him. We look forward to working with the Governor, our colleagues in the legislature, BESE, DOE and stakeholders across the state to craft standards and testing that work for Louisiana students.

We will work hard in the next legislative session to ensure our students are protected and afford them every opportunity to succeed in today's competitive marketplace.

We will work with our colleagues on both sides of the issue to find common ground for standards that truly benefit Louisiana students.

We strongly urge everyone who cares about public education to take a deep breath, and recognize that those who disagree about how best to proceed, really care about education too. Even those who have changed their minds.
__________
State Representative James Armes
State Representative Terry Brown
State Representative Henry Burns
State Representative Tim Burns
State Representative Greg Cromer
State Representative Gordon Dove
State Representative Ray Garofalo
State Representative Brett Geymann
State Representative Johnny Guinn
State Representative Kenny Havard
State Representative Lance Harris
State Representative Joe Harrison
State Representative Cameron Henry
State Representative Bob Hensgens
State Representative Valarie Hodges
State Representative Paul Hollis
State Representative Frank Hoffman
State Representative Frank Howard
State Representative Barry Ivey
State Representative Sam Jones
State Representative Eddie Lambert
State Representative Bernard Lebas
State Representative Sherman Mack
State Representative Greg Miller
State Representative Jack Montoucet
State Representative Jim Morris
State Representative Kevin Pearson
State Representative Rogers Pope
State Representative Steve Pugh
State Representative Steve Pylant
State Representative Dee Richard
State Representative John Schroder
State Representative Alan Seabaugh
State Representative Lenar Whitney
State Representative Tom Wilmott
State Senator A. G. Crowe
State Senator Dale Erdey
State Senator Elbert Guillory
State Senator Bob Kostelka
State Senator Jonathan Perry

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4 months ago

BESE sets special meeting to discuss Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's top school board is holding a special meeting next week to talk about Gov. Bobby Jindal's attempt to derail the Common Core education standards in public schools.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education set a Tuesday meeting to discuss "possible next steps."

BESE President Chas Roemer made it clear in his statement Wednesday, however, that he intends to push forward with Common Core. He says the board is bound by law to use the education standards and associated testing. Roemer says the board will "follow the law to that end."

Jindal has taken steps to try to disrupt use of the multi-state standards in Louisiana's classrooms. His administration has suspended a state contract to try to keep the education department from buying testing material tied to Common Core.

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4 months ago

Teacher training to continue focus on Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's universities were instructed Monday to continue training teachers to the Common Core education standards even though Gov. Bobby Jindal is trying to derail the standards in public school classrooms.

The Board of Regents, which oversees public higher education in the state, issued a memo to teacher preparation deans and others on the campuses directing them to continue training on the Common Core standards.

The memo said the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is the agency that approves teacher preparation programs to allow people to become certified teachers - and that the board has adopted and continues to support the Common Core standards.

"Thus, universities will continue to integrate the Louisiana Content Standards into their curriculum. Failure to do so can result in universities losing BESE approval of graduates becoming certified to teach in Louisiana," wrote Jeanne Burns, Regents associate commissioner of teacher and leadership initiatives.

Common Core standards, adopted by more than 40 states, are grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in English and math. They were developed by states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers.

Jindal announced last week that he was taking steps to try to disrupt use of the multi-state education standards in Louisiana's classrooms. He said the federal government is trying to use Common Core to control local curriculum and educational systems.

He's using his oversight of state contracts to try to keep the state education department from buying standardized testing materials related to Common Core as a way to undermine the standards.

But Jindal can't directly shut down their use in classrooms, and lawmakers rejected attempts to replace Common Core with Louisiana-specific education standards.

BESE President Chas Roemer and Superintendent of Education John White say Jindal has overstepped his authority and they intend to continue with Common Core.

In the memo, Burns said the Board of Regents issued the statement because campuses had sought guidance. She said board chairman Clinton "Bubba" Rasberry also called public university chancellors and presidents to tell them to continue with Common Core training.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. But criticism has grown as President Barack Obama's administration encouraged states to use the standards, leading to charges that Common Core is an effort to nationalize education.

Jindal was once a supporter of Common Core. Roemer, a Republican, has said he believes the governor changed his stance on Common Core as a way to appeal to tea party organizations and conservative voters who could help him with a likely 2016 presidential bid.

5 months ago

Governor and Superintendent Clash Over Common Core

Tonight, the Jindal administration is closing any loopholes on the governor's plan to effectively get Common Core standards out of Louisiana.

While the governor doesn't have the power to scrap the new education standards on his own, he's taking aim at the standardized test associated with Common Core, called "PARCC."

Jindal says that test is too expensive; so he's ordering a bid process for standardized test, opening the door for potentially cheaper testing to be brought in.

Wednesday, State Superintendent of Education, John White, said "not so fast" to Governor Jindal's plan. Then, later that evening, the Jindal administration fired back, suspending contracts with the Common Core consulting firm. The governor and the superintendent are now going head to head.

At a news conference, Jindal said, "It's certainly no secret that I'm opposed to the Common Core."

Jindal did not hold back during his announcement that he hopes Louisiana will become the fourth state to pull out of Common Core this year.

"Common Core has become a one size fits all program that simply does not make sense for our state," Jindal adds.

Jindal's comments sent shockwaves through the educational community. And now, the man pushing Common Core is pushing back against his boss.

"President Romer and I are committing today that the state will continue to implement the Common Core state standards, and will continue it's implementation of the PARCC Test," says State Superintendent of Education John White.

Both White and BESE President Chas Roemer vowed to continue to push through with Common Core, saying Jindal's statement is not about education, but instead about politics.

"You know I don't think anybody has the authority to ignore the constitution of the state. This is a political maneuver. Because of politics, his politics that are national in scope. There's no other way to explain a 180 turn from a plan that started in January of 2010," says Roemer.

And while the governor has his own ideas for state education, the battle over the classroom is far from over.

"The ultimate solution, I believe, is Louisiana developing it's own standards and our own test," says Jindal.

"Whether the governor can or cannot veto these rules has no effect on whether or not the state will implement the Common Core standards and the PARCC test. Because it is explicitly BESE's responsibility and not the governor," says White.

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5 months ago

RECAP: Jindal seeks to block Common Core test; White says we're keeping it

Gov. Bobby Jindal has issued an executive order requiring competitive bidding for public school standardized tests, an apparent attempt to derail Louisiana's use of tests linked to Common Core education standards.

The Department of Education planned to use Common Core-tied tests known as PARCC for students in third through eighth grades. The Republican governor says requiring a competitive bid for the test will stop use of PARCC. Superintendent of Education John White and state education board chairman Chas Roemer disagree, saying they intend to continue the roll-out of Common Core and plan to use the PARCC test under their existing authority.

Where the dispute heads next is unclear. Common Core standards are English and math benchmarks adopted by most states. Jindal says the standards amount to a federal education takeover.

READ SUPERINTEDENT WHITE'S PRESS RELEASE HERE

READ GOVERNOR JINDAL'S PRESS RELEASE HERE

SEE GOVERNOR JINDAL'S SPEECH HERE

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5 months ago

Happening now: White says they will keep Common Core

Happening Now: Superintendent White says the state will continue to implement Common Core and PARCC testing despite what the Governor said. He says they've committed to 10 years, and they will not throw system into chaos by getting a new plan.

Press Release from the LA Dept of Education: The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Department of Education today reaffirmed that the state will implement the Common Core State Standards, as well as grade 3-8 test forms and questions developed by states within the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) for the 2014-2015 school year. The Department will deliver and score the grade 3-8 tests using the state's currently active contract for grade 3-8 testing, awarded through the state procurement process.

In 2010, after a public review process, BESE adopted the Common Core State Standards as minimum expectations for reading, writing, and mathematics. The Governor, the BESE President, and the State Superintendent then signed a commitment to developing test forms and questions that would allow the state's performance to be measured in comparison with other states. Nearly 45,000 Louisiana students tried out the resulting PARCC forms and questions in March and April of 2014.

The plan to continue implementation fulfills BESE's legal role and obligations. Under the Louisiana State Constitution, BESE "shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction and shall have budgetary responsibility for all funds appropriated or allocated by the state for those schools, all as provided by law."

State law requires that "[t]he state Department of Education shall, with the approval of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as part of the Louisiana Competency-Based Education Program, develop and establish statewide content standards for required subjects to be taught in the public elementary and secondary schools of this state."

Regarding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC tests, state law mandates that "[b]eginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments shall be based on nationally recognized content standards." State law also mandates that "[t]he rigor of each standard-based test, at a minimum, shall be comparable to national achievement tests" and "student achievement standards shall be set with reference to test scores of the same grade levels nationally." The plan reaffirmed by BESE and the Department today meets with these legal requirements.

"For years, the law has required that BESE measure literacy and math achievement," said BESE President Chas Roemer. "Four years ago, our board committed to measuring learning in comparison with states across the country, and two years ago the Legislature put this plan into the law. BESE is continuing to implement that law."

"State and federal law have long required that Louisiana measure literacy and math performance through standards and annual tests," said State Superintendent John White. "By using test forms and questions that make results comparable among states, we are following the Legislature's mandate that we not only measure but also compete."

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Following Governor Jindal's announcement, the Department of Education issued this FACT SHEET that they say counters some of the claims Jindal made.

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5 months ago

Complete verbatim of Governor Jindal's Common Core announcement

Complete Press Release from Governor Jindal's Office:

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal sent a letter to the Partnership of Assessments for College and Career Readiness (PARCC) asking the organization to immediately withdraw from the State of Louisiana. Governor Jindal issued an executive order that instructs the Louisiana Department of Education to begin a competitive process to purchase a new assessment and called on the Department of Education and the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education to develop Louisiana standards for the Legislature to approve next legislative session.

The Governor said the state is no longer committed to implementing the PARCC assessment in the 2014-15 school year, rendering it unable to comply with the terms of the June 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the State and PARCC. In addition, several changes have occurred since the MOU was signed that make Louisiana's membership in conflict with Louisiana law. He also cited teacher dissatisfaction and concerns over one-size fits all federal standards, and highlighted that the federal government has rushed its implementation.

Governor Jindal said, "It's time for PARCC to withdraw from Louisiana. We won't let the federal government take over Louisiana's education standards. We're very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from parents and educators. Common Core has not been fully implemented yet in Louisiana, and we need to start the process over. It was rushed in the beginning and done without public input.

"Additionally, proponents weren't up front about federal involvement in PARCC and Common Core. Now that we understand the federal overreach involved, we need to slow down and make the right decision. Some Common Core proponents suggest that we cannot have high standards without Common Core. That is a false statement. We need a Louisiana test that ensures children are performing at high levels so they can compete not only around the country, but around the world. We can certainly have high standards without giving up control of Louisiana's education system to the federal government.
"If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice. But education is a primary responsibility of states, and we will not cede this responsibility to the federal government."

The Governor said the MOU does not allow for a competitive bid process for the test, which is required under Louisiana law. Additionally, other vendors have entered the market that offer comparable assessments at lower costs and allow greater input from, and accountability to, the states that hire them. Louisiana law requires the state to choose the lowest cost responsive bidder.
As a result of these conflicts, the Governor took the following actions to ensure that Louisiana maintains control of its assessments and complies with its own laws:

1. Issued an executive order that instructs the Louisiana Department of Education to conduct a competitive process to purchase a new assessment and which prohibits the expenditure of funds on cooperative group purchasing organizations and interstate agreements;
2. Suspended the rules adopted by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from May 2014 to ensure that the Louisiana Department of Education is able to comply with Louisiana competitive bid law;
3. Instructed the Division of Administration to conduct a comprehensive accounting of all Louisiana expenditures and resources on PARCC, what services or products have been received in return for such expenditures, and copies of all contracts in place or in negotiation for the purchase of an assessment;
4. Issued a Request for Information to PARCC requesting information about the procurement processes utilized by the consortium, by the Fiscal Agent state, and by the Lead Procurement State to ensure that these processes complied with Louisiana law;
5. Notified the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor's Association (NGA) of Louisiana's termination of participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

The Governor sent the following letter to PARCC outlining these actions:

June 18, 2014
Dear Commissioner Chester,
This letter is to request that the Partnership of Assessments for College and Career Readiness (PARCC) immediately withdraw from the State of Louisiana. The State of Louisiana is no longer committed to implementing the PARCC assessment in the 2014-15 school year, rendering it unable to comply with the terms of the June 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the State and PARCC. In addition, several changes have occurred since the MOU was signed that make Louisiana's membership in conflict with Louisiana law.

First, PARCC's Cooperative Agreement with the United States Department of Education (USDOE) includes terms that would remove Louisiana's control over its assessments, and thereby its curriculum and pedagogy. While PARCC has assured states that curriculum is a local matter, the reality is what is assessed is what is taught and PARCC has a funding agreement with USDOE for $186 million. Laws enacted during the 2014 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature specifically authorize local education agencies to develop curriculum, content and methodology in lieu of any curriculum developed by the state board and prohibit the sharing of identifiable student information.
Second, there are several other vendors who have entered the market and who are now offering comparable assessment products at potentially lower cost and with greater input from, and accountability to, the individual states who hired them. Louisiana law requires the state to choose the lowest cost responsive bidder and to maintain control of the contract through which state taxpayer dollars will be expended. Neither of these criteria is met under the contracting arrangement of PARCC through a Fiscal Agent and/or Lead Procurement State.

Third, several of the RFPs issued on behalf of PARCC were done so by other states, without the opportunity for Louisiana to ensure that these processes were handled in a method that complies with Louisiana's competitive bid law. Louisiana's MOU with PARCC and PARCC's Cooperation Agreement with USDOE require PARCC to utilize competitive bid processes that comply with the laws of each member state and federal law.

Fourth, strict compliance with the MOU will prevent Louisiana from observing its competitive bid law for the procurement of the assessment itself. Louisiana law prohibits public procurement units from entering into cooperative purchasing agreements "for the purpose of circumventing" the Procurement Code (La. R.S. 39:1708). The MOU states specifically that each Governing State must agree to use the PARCC tests and to adopt them into its accountability and teacher evaluation systems, which is against Louisiana law if done without a competitive process. Louisiana cannot be a member of a cooperative purchasing agreement that requires, as a condition of membership, it buy the agreement's product, especially before the product was even developed, and at an unknown cost at the time of execution.
Therefore, I have taken the following actions to ensure that Louisiana maintains control of its assessments and complies with its own laws:

1. I have issued an executive order that instructs the Louisiana Department of Education to conduct a competitive process to purchase a new assessment and which prohibits the expenditure of funds on cooperative group purchasing organizations and interstate agreements.
2. I have suspended the rules adopted by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from May 2014 to ensure that the Louisiana Department of Education is able to comply with Louisiana competitive bid law;
3. I have instructed the Louisiana Division of Administration to conduct a comprehensive accounting of all Louisiana expenditures and resources on PARCC, what services or products have been received in return for such expenditures, and copies of all contracts in place or in negotiation for the purchase of an assessment.
4. I have issued a Request for Information to PARCC requesting information about the procurement processes utilized by the consortium, by the Fiscal Agent state, and by the Lead Procurement State to ensure that these processes complied with Louisiana law.
5. I have notified the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor's Association (NGA) of Louisiana's termination of participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
I will pursue cancellation of this MOU through all means necessary.
Sincerely,
Bobby Jindal
Governor

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5 months ago

Jindal: Scrap Common Core and "come up with better plan"

Gov. Bobby Jindal, after much speculation, has pulled Louisiana from the Common Core education standards.

Jindal ordered a new set of tests and standards instead of Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), telling the state's Department of Education to "come up with a better plan," he said.

Jindal indicated he's been considering taking executive action to ditch the state's use of Common Core materials and PARCC. Jindal also is on record having opposed a federal takeover of education. Until now, Louisiana's Department of Education has employed the Common Core English and Math benchmarks currently adopted by other states.

"You can have high standards in Louisiana without giving up control,"Jindal said.

However, Louisiana's Education Superintendent John White contends that the governor does not have the authority to take this action.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has maintained Common Core in Louisiana public schools and the Louisiana legislature has voted to continue it.

"The comprehensive solution is for Louisiana to develop its own tests," the governor said, explaining that he considers Wednesday's actions "a good first step."

"At some point, you have to say enough is enough," Jindal added, alluding to what he said he believes has been a "federal overreach."

The issue could wind up in court, the governor acknowledged.

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5 months ago

Jindal to announce action against Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - After weeks of speculation, Gov. Bobby Jindal is expected to announce his plans to try to yank Louisiana out of the Common Core education standards.

The Republican governor planned a Wednesday news conference to talk about Louisiana's use of the English and math benchmarks adopted by most states.

Jindal opposes the standards as an attempted federal takeover of education. He's said he's looking at executive actions to scrap use of Common Core.

State lawmakers and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have voted to maintain the Common Core in public school classrooms. And Superintendent of Education John White said Jindal doesn't have the legal authority to stop Louisiana from using the standards.

Depending on Jindal's approach to try to jettison the standards, the issue could wind up in court.

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5 months ago

Governor Jindal to Make Announcement Regarding Common Core

Governor Jindal is preparing to hold a press conference at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday on Common Core. There is no indication from his staff on what he'll be saying.

This comes on the heels of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying Gov. Bobby Jindal's recent opposition to the Common Core education standards is politically-driven. Duncan made his comments Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," when questioned about the English and math benchmarks adopted by most states and Jindal's criticism of them.

The secretary noted Louisiana's GOP governor once was a supporter of Common Core. He said of Jindal's switched position: "It's about politics, it's not about education." Republicans are divided on Common Core, with opposition from tea party organizations.

Jindal has said he intends to take executive action to remove the Common Core from Louisiana classrooms, despite legislative support for the standards.

Jindal spokeswoman Shannon Bates said Duncan's comments prove the Common Core is being pushed by the Obama administration as "a federal takeover" of education.

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5 months ago

Education secretary hits Jindal on Common Core

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says Gov. Bobby Jindal's recent opposition to the Common Core education standards is politically-driven.

Duncan made his comments Tuesday on "CBS This Morning," when questioned about the English and math benchmarks adopted by most states and Jindal's criticism of them.

The secretary noted Louisiana's GOP governor once was a supporter of Common Core. He said of Jindal's switched position: "It's about politics, it's not about education."

Republicans are divided on Common Core, with opposition from tea party organizations.

Jindal has said he intends to take executive action to remove the Common Core from Louisiana classrooms, despite legislative support for the standards.

Jindal spokeswoman Shannon Bates said Duncan's comments prove the Common Core is being pushed by the Obama administration as "a federal takeover" of education.

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5 months ago

Business groups to Jindal: Don't scrap Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A coalition of Louisiana business and civic groups Friday called on Gov. Bobby Jindal to keep the Common Core education standards in Louisiana public schools, saying any attempt to unilaterally scrap them would violate "the spirit of the democratic process."

State lawmakers in the recently ended legislative session and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have voted to maintain the benchmarks adopted by most states for English, reading and math.

Common Core opponents want Jindal to take executive action to remove Louisiana from the standards and its associated PARCC testing. The Republican governor has said he's committed to getting Louisiana out of Common Core.

Whether he has any authority to take such an action remains unclear.

More than 40 groups - which include many of the state's chambers of commerce and top business leaders - issued a letter urging Jindal to stay the course on Common Core.

They said they are shocked Jindal is suggesting he'll pursue executive action despite the "very strong affirmation of Common Core" by the Legislature and BESE. The letter says executive orders shouldn't be used to "make end runs" around other elected officials.

"We believe this action would constitute executive overreach that violates every aspect of the spirit of the democratic process. It would suggest that the state should be governed not by the bodies that constitutionally enact education laws and policies, but by the unilateral use of the executive pen," they wrote.

Jindal once supported the education standards, but he has become an ever-more vocal critic in recent months, saying he wants Louisiana to develop state-specific standards. He has said the Common Core is a "one-size-fits-all federal approach," that has been rushed into classrooms too quickly without enough thought for the concerns of parents.

But the governor's office has refused to say what legal options Jindal believes he could use to try to jettison Common Core from classrooms.

Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core supporter, said the governor doesn't have the legal authority to stop Louisiana from using the benchmarks. He says BESE sets the standards under law and a 2012 law requires Louisiana to use nationally recognized content standards.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. They say the tests are more rigorous than Louisiana's most recent slate of standardized tests.

Critics of the standards say they would nationalize education, removing authority over content and curriculum from local control and jeopardizing student privacy.

The letter urging Jindal to keep Common Core was signed by more than 40 organizations, including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Bossier Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Southwest Louisiana, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Greater New Orleans Inc., the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

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5 months ago

Oklahoma governor signs bill repealing Common Core

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation that repeals the Common Core education standards in Oklahoma, saying the federal government's attempt to influence state education policy was reason enough to abolish the math and English guidelines that had been scheduled to take effect in the upcoming school year.

The bill, overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate on the final day of the 2014 Legislature, requires the state to return to old standards in place before 2010 and directs that new ones be developed by 2016. It requires all new standards and revisions to be subject to legislative review.

"There are things in the legislation that will cause challenges," Fallin said after signing the bill Thursday. "But there's also great opportunity for Oklahomans to work together."

Fallin said the intense debate over whether to repeal the Common Core standards has "focused our attention on the importance of education."

"We are very capable as Oklahomans of developing our own Oklahoma standards to make sure that our children receive the highest quality education possible in our state," she said.

Initially adopted in Oklahoma in 2010, the Common Core standards are part of an initiative of the National Governors Association, which is currently chaired by Fallin, to outline what students are expected to learn and know by each grade level. They have been adopted by more than 40 other states, but there has been growing concern, especially among grass-roots conservatives, that the standards represent a federal takeover of state education. Fallin tried to placate those concerns in December by signing an executive order stating Oklahoma will be responsible for deciding how to implement the standards, but opposition continued to mount.

"It has become very apparent to me that the word 'Common Core' has become a word that is tainted, that is divisive in our state," Fallin said.

She said the federal government has tied funding to certain Common Core guidelines and that "it's a possibility" that repeal of the standards could affect federal education dollars received by the state. Between 5 percent and 7 percent of the state education budget is provided by the federal government.

Former supporter of the Common Core standards, State Superintendent of Education Janet Barresi, praised the repeal.

"As it has become entangled with federal government ... Common Core has become too difficult and inflexible," Barresi said.

The more rigorous standards had been supported by the business community, including the politically powerful State Chamber. Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, said Fallin's decision to sign the bill "is a massive disappointment" to educators, administrators and business leaders who have tried to develop internationally benchmarked but locally controlled academic standards.

"Gov. Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature have reneged on their promise to Oklahoma's students, bending to political hysteria at the expense of our children and the quality of our future workforce," Neal said.

The Oklahoma Academic Standards, which are aligned with Common Core standards in English and mathematics, were scheduled to be reflected in tests administered to students next year, and more than 60 percent of the school districts in the state already have aligned curriculum with the new standards, according to state education officials.

Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, said Fallin's decision "will throw many schools into chaos as they prepare for a new academic year."

"This decision is not good for Oklahoma's schools, and it's not good for Oklahoma's kids," he said.

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5 months ago

Common Core debate now moves to Jindal's office

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - With lawmakers refusing to scrap the Common Core, the fight over Louisiana's use of the education standards shifted Tuesday to Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Opponents of the English and math benchmarks used to judge students across most states are pressuring Jindal to take executive action to remove Louisiana from the Common Core and its standardized testing, known as PARCC.

The Republican governor, a one-time supporter of the standards who is now a critic, said he's studying his legal options. He wants Louisiana to develop state-specific standards and has compared the standards to a federal takeover akin to "centralized planning ... in Russia."

"This is a one-size-fits-all federal approach. There's a rush to implement these standards without listening to the concerns of parents," Jindal said Monday. "There are some things we can do, and we'll certainly be looking at every one of those."

But whether the governor can do or will do anything remains unclear.

Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core supporter, said the governor doesn't have the legal authority to yank Louisiana away from the education benchmarks.

White said the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education sets the standards under law, and he said a 2012 law spells out that the state must use nationally recognized content standards.

"It's a pretty straight-up thing," White said. "It's no secret the direction in which we are going and the law is on our side. BESE has the power to set the standards, and BESE set the standards."

Jindal's office didn't answer questions Tuesday about what legal options the governor believes he could use to try to jettison the Common Core.

Lawmakers, who wrapped up their work a day earlier, rejected efforts in their three-month legislative session to scrap the use of the education standards and the testing.

The standards are being phased into Louisiana's public school classrooms, and the PARCC testing is set to be used in third grade through eighth grade next year.

Supporters of Common Core and the PARCC testing say they promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. They say the tests are more rigorous than Louisiana's most recent slate of standardized tests.

Critics of the standards say they would nationalize education, removing authority over content and curriculum from local control and jeopardizing student privacy.

Lawmakers made one change on Common Core, agreeing to delay the consequences of using the standards until the 2016-17 school year, one year longer than the policy adopted by the state education board. That bill awaits a decision by Jindal.

But opponents of Common Core say the governor could remove Louisiana from using the standards and the tests through executive action.

"At this moment, it's in the hands of the governor," said Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, a vocal critic of the standards. "He gives the impression he is not for it and his comments related to PARCC and Common Core continue to grow more serious and direct. Only time will tell whether or not he acts on this."

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6 months ago

Panel votes against developing Louisiana specific common core standards

Another effort to dismantle Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards has been defeated, this time by a resounding vote Thursday of the Senate Education Committee.

The panel voted 6-1 against the bill (Senate Bill 669) by Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, which would have created a state commission to develop Louisiana-specific content standards and associated testing. Only Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, voted to support the proposal.

The grade-by-grade benchmarks have been adopted by most states of what students should learn in English and math. They are being phased in to Louisiana's public school classrooms, with the new standardized tests set to be used in third grade through eighth grade next year.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and allow for comparison of student performance across states. Opponents say the standards are part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.

Crowe said parents and teachers are unhappy with the new standards, and he said the volume of complaints would only get louder if lawmakers don't force change.

"These people are screaming from the tops of mountains to do something," he said after hours of often emotional testimony.

Senators said shelving the standards would create disruption in classrooms and would keep students from being able to be graded against students from other states.

The House Education Committee already had rejected similar legislation.

Gov. Bobby Jindal supports scrapping Common Core and its associated testing, but the move is opposed by Chas Roemer, the president of the state education board, and Superintendent of Education John White.

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6 months ago

Louisiana Common Core Standards Still in Place after Senate Vote

Another effort to dismantle Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards has been defeated, this time by a resounding vote Thursday of the Senate Education Committee.

The panel voted 6-1 against the bill (Senate Bill 669) by Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, which would have created a state commission to develop Louisiana-specific content standards and associated testing. Only Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, voted to support the proposal.

The grade-by-grade benchmarks have been adopted by most states of what students should learn in English and math. They are being phased in to Louisiana's public school classrooms, with the new standardized tests set to be used in third grade through eighth grade next year.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and allow for comparison of student performance across states. Opponents say the standards are part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.

Crowe said parents and teachers are unhappy with the new standards, and he said the volume of complaints would only get louder if lawmakers don't force change.

"These people are screaming from the tops of mountains to do something," he said after hours of often emotional testimony.

Senators said shelving the standards would create disruption in classrooms and would keep students from being able to be graded against students from other states.

The House Education Committee already had rejected similar legislation.

Gov. Bobby Jindal supports scrapping Common Core and its associated testing, but the move is opposed by Chas Roemer, the president of the state education board, and Superintendent of Education John White.

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6 months ago

Lawmakers reject bill to kill Common Core tests

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A back-door effort to undermine Louisiana's use of testing tied to Common Core education standards failed to win support Monday from a House committee, the latest blow to lawmakers seeking to stall the standards.

The House Appropriations Committee voted 12-10 against a bill by Rep. Brett Geymann to require legislative approval before the education department could spend money on the standardized tests tied to Common Core.

Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said his bill would provide legislative oversight of spending and give lawmakers more information about testing contracts that cost millions of dollars.

"It doesn't prohibit anything. It just requires a legislative vote," he said.

At issue is the state education department's plan to use the tests from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year.

While Geymann suggested the bill wouldn't necessarily end use of the PARCC tests, supporters of the proposal made it clear that was the result they wanted.

"The PARCC assessment is bogus," said Beth Appleton, a parent who spoke in support of Geymann's bill. "It's a waste of money."

Opponents said Geymann's proposal could disrupt public school classrooms and testing plans that have been in the works for nearly four years. They said if the state scraps use of the PARCC tests, school districts would be left in chaos, with no standardized tests to measure students.

Jason Hughes, with the education group Stand For Children Louisiana, said districts have spent millions of dollars to get ready for the PARCC testing.

"I think it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to just let that money go down the drain," Hughes said.

Superintendent of Education John White said the bill had sweeping implications, affecting at least a dozen tests across school districts and requiring 150 local education agencies to get approval to administer tests they've used for years.

"It has vast implications," White said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal's office supported the measure, but no one from his office spoke during the testimony. Jindal has said he'll consider ways to shelve Louisiana's use of the PARCC tests unilaterally if lawmakers don't make the decision themselves. But it's unclear if the Republican governor has the authority to stop the assessments from being used in classrooms.

Lawmakers opposed to Common Core have failed to win support for several efforts to scrap the standards.

Supporters of Common Core and the PARCC testing say they promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and allow for comparison of student performance across states. Opponents of the standards oppose them as part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that they say would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.

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6 months ago

Lawmakers reject bill to kill Common Core tests

A back-door effort to undermine Louisiana's use of testing tied to Common Core education standards has failed to win legislative support.

Republican Rep. Brett Geymann of Lake Charles proposed to require legislative approval before the education department could spend money on the standardized tests tied to Common Core. The House Appropriations Committee voted 12-10 against the bill Monday.

Geymann said his bill would provide legislative oversight of spending and give lawmakers more information about testing contracts that cost millions of dollars.

Opponents said the measure would disrupt classrooms and testing plans that have been in the works for nearly four years. Superintendent of Education John White said the proposal had sweeping implications, affecting at least a dozen tests across school districts.

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6 months ago

Bill would delay implications of Common Core tests

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The consequences of Louisiana's shift to Common Core education standards would be stalled for three years, if lawmakers agree to a bill moving in the Legislature.

The proposal by New Orleans Rep. Walt Leger, a Democrat, would mean that public school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion wouldn't be affected by the standardized testing associated with Common Core until the 2016-17 school year.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education had delayed the implications until the 2015-16 year.

Leger says the state should provide another year to make sure teachers and students adjust to the tougher standards. Critics of Common Core opposed the bill, saying it doesn't address larger problems with the standards.

The House Education Committee voted 10-6 to move the bill to the full House for debate.

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7 months ago

Eggs & Issues on Common Core State Standards

The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce will facilitate a discussion on Common Core Standards on Friday, April 25th from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Ramada Inn, 2915 Hwy 14, New Iberia. Speakers include Dale Henderson, Iberia Parish Superintendent and Barry Erwin, CEO of Council for a Better LA (CABL). Henderson will address the current standards and local implementation challenges. Erwin will provide a regional view addressing the need for an education policy which supports a competitive work force. The discussion will end with a Q&A session with attendees. The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce endeavors to bring factual information directly to its business members.

If interested in attending, please register on the Chamber website at www.iberiachamber.org or calling (337) 364-1836. Cost is $40 for general admission and $25 for members. Those Chamber Members interested in the Q&A are encouraged to submit their questions ahead of time to keep the event timely.

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7 months ago

Lawmakers discuss implications of scrapping Common Core

Senators on the budget-writing committee Monday questioned the costs and implications of a push by some lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal to shelve Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards and associated testing. Superintendent of Education John White told the Senate Finance Committee that moving away from testing plans tied to Common Core would be "at significant financial cost."

White, a supporter of Common Core, estimated the state's costs would grow by at least $5 million next year to develop state-specific tests. He said local school systems would pay millions more to buy new curricula and do new teacher training on different standards.

"They've made sizable investments. They'd have to go back and redo those investments," White said. The House Education Committee defeated measures to move Louisiana away from the Common Core and to jettison use of standardized testing from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC.

But legislative efforts continue, with the support of Jindal, who said he has concerns about a "one-size-fits-all approach" used across multiple states. The governor said if lawmakers don't scrap the PARCC tests, he'd consider trying to remove the state from the multi-state consortium on his own. The new standardized tests are set to be used in third-grade through eighth-grade public school classrooms next year. White told senators that if Louisiana chose to end its agreement with PARCC, the state has no other tests to put in place next school year.

Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, said developing a set of replacement tests in time for the next school year seemed impractical, if not impossible. "I cannot imagine how we would do it," White said. White said it would take roughly 18 months to develop and field test questions for new state-specific standardized tests and have them ready to roll out for classrooms.

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7 months ago

Eggs & Issues on Common Core State Standards

The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce will facilitate a discussion on Common Core Standards on Friday, April 25th at the Ramada Inn. Speakers include Dale Henderson, Iberia Parish Superintendent and Barry Erwin, CEO of Council for a Better LA (CABL). Henderson will address the current standards and local implementation challenges. Erwin will provide a regional view addressing the need for an education policy which supports a competitive work force. The discussion will end with a Q&A session with attendees. The Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce endeavors to bring factual information directly to its business members.

If interested in attending, please register on the Chamber website at www.iberiachamber.org or calling (337) 364-1836. Cost is $40 for general admission and $25 for members. Those Chamber Members interested in the Q&A are encouraged to submit their questions ahead of time to keep the event timely.

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7 months ago

Acadiana Educators React to Common Core Implementation

Acadiana educators are reacting to State Superintendent John White, as he is looking at ways to tweak Common Core and PARCC tests.

White is hoping to improve on some aspects of Common Core, but Governor Bobby Jindal says if lawmakers don't scrap the PARCC test, which is a Common Core based standardized test, he'd consider trying to remove Louisiana from the PARCC consortium himself.

We spoke with educators who have been warning state officials from the beginning.

"All we're asking is to slow down a little bit, give us time as districts, we know what's best for our people for our students," said Vermilion Parish Superintendent Jerome Puyau.

The Common Core Curriculum has sparked several debates across the state, but educators like Puyau says its not Common Core itself causing the chaos.

"I was very adamant in saying Vermilion Parish has always been accepting of those higher standards but removing a transitional year, not providing us with a curriculum, leaving writing of curriculum on our teachers backs is what frustrated teachers the most," said Puyau. "This put district, students, teachers and parents in a predicament and set them up for failure."

Puyau thinks throwing out the standards now would only make matters worse because once again teachers would have to start something new.

"We've made great strides, our teachers have really started to understand, our students have start to understand however is it perfect no we're still going to implement new strategies," Puyau added.

The way Common Core was rolled out is a major concern for Rodolfo Espinoza, a teacher at Lafayette High.

"Anytime you're forcing a teacher to do things in a certain way for bureaucratic reasons, you're encroaching on their professionalism, they're ability to be creative and bring to the table all the reasons why they become a teacher in the first place," said Espinoza.

"PARCC" is a test used to evaluate students in Common Core. Meaning on top of other standardized tests, high school students would be testing from December through May starting next year.

"Why don't we find a way to have one test, from kindergarten all the way through the 12th grade where one test can show that measure," said Puyau.

"We've become data obsessed and that's driving us down the road of less and less quality classroom time," said Espinoza.

Governor Jindal's office released a statement this afternoon saying, "we continue to support high standards and rigor in our classrooms, but with every passing day it's becoming more and more obvious that parents have concerns with Common Core. It seems this process has been rushed, not just in Louisiana but across the country. It makes sense to take some time and get this right."

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7 months ago

Jindal moves away from Common Core standards

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - After months of sidestepping questions on whether Louisiana should continue its use of the Common Core standards, Gov. Bobby Jindal has edged into the legislative debate, saying the state should develop its own education benchmarks.

But people on both sides of the disagreement are wondering how hard the Republican governor will push to change Louisiana's educational course, after previously being a supporter of the Common Core.

The issue divides Republicans across the nation and puts Jindal at odds with his hand-picked education superintendent and members of the state education board he helped to get elected.

Jindal's office offered the governor's support Wednesday to two failed bills that could have allowed Louisiana to move away from Common Core and develop its own standards and standardized testing.

"We continue to support high standards and rigor in our classrooms, but with every passing day it's becoming more and more obvious that parents have concerns with Common Core," Jindal said in an interview Friday. "It's a mistake to ignore parents."

The bill by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, would have created a 30-member commission to draw up new standards, with consultation from education experts and parents and final approval needed from lawmakers.

Jindal also backed a second bill by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, that would have prohibited Louisiana from using the standardized testing associated with Common Core.

The House Education Committee voted 12-7 against each bill, and as supporters of the measures seek to gain new traction for the proposals, it's unclear how much of a priority Jindal will make the most high-profile debate of the legislative session.

The governor didn't throw his full weight behind the effort to pass either Geymann's or Henry's bill during the committee debate.

His office submitted a card indicating support during the debate. No one from his office spoke to press for passage, and Jindal was out of state during the committee discussion, discussing national health care policy and fundraising.

Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Erath, who voted against the bills, said the governor's office never approached her about the proposals considered by the committee. She said she's not even clear on Jindal's position on Common Core.

"I never saw anything that he expressed to anyone other than he had concerns. What those specific concerns were that he had, I don't know. I never heard that," she said.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed in 2010 to phase in the Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states as a way to compare performance.

Supporters include business leaders, a majority of BESE members and Superintendent of Education John White. They say the standards raise expectations for students and better prepare them for college and careers.

Barry Erwin, president of the Council For A Better Louisiana, which strongly supports keeping the Common Core standards in place, said changing course now would disrupt classrooms and could leave students in limbo for years while new standards are developed.

"Whether (Jindal's) just dipping his toe into the discussion or not, I think one thing that is concerning is the governor's office was supporting some bills that we in the education reform community think would do some real harm to the reforms we have worked for," Erwin said.

Backers of Geymann's bill said the standards didn't get enough public and legislative review and implementation was poorly handled. Common Core critics said using the multistate standards shifts Louisiana to a nationalized education system that removes local control.

Four years ago, Jindal signed documents of support for Common Core. On Friday, the governor said he's concerned about a "federal overreach" in education. He said use of the standards has moved too quickly and parents should have more time to air their worries.

Jindal said he doesn't expect the House Education defeat of the bills to end legislative debate on Common Core.

"We're talking to more and more legislators, letting more and more people know our concerns," he said.

But how far he'll press for a change wasn't definitive.

"This is something where we want to hear the debate and we want to let the debate happen," Jindal said.

Geymann said he'll be asking for Jindal's office to push the issue with Republican lawmakers, in the hopes of gaining support for a change of course on Common Core.

"We think the administration is supporting our effort, but we are going to go back and visit them and make sure that they still support our effort," he said.

___

Online:

House Bills 381 and 558 can be found at www.legis.la.gov

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7 months ago

Bill repealing common core fails in committee

UPDATE: A bill to repeal common core did not pass the House Committee on Education. HB 381, proposed by Louisiana State Representative Brett Geymann of Lake Charles, lost with a 7 to 12 vote. This is among many bills relating to common core to be discussed.

House Bill 381 would have created a Louisiana commission to develop state standards in public schools. It would temporarily stop certain math and english tests known as PARCC, but maintain common core standards for the current school year.

This bill is causing heated debate and has seen dozens of amendments. Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper said the changes would take a step backwards.

"We get everyone trained one way and then we have to train them all over again," Cooper said. "Lafayette in particular has spent a lot of money and a lot of time training teachers, buying hardware and computers."

Under the bill a Louisiana commission of 30 people would create new state standards in public schools, scrapping common core.

"I feel like we should have someone locally to design the curriculum for the state of Louisiana because they know our kids," Jerrie Williams, a parent of three children, said.

Both sides argue that high standards are needed in public schools. According to the bill, schools would still be able to create their own curriculum, but it would also allow districts to go above the standards created by the state. Some say this could be a problem.

"What is the impact on a child who is taught one thing and then moves to another school district with a totally new expectations?" Representative Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, said.

Opponents of the bill argue that teachers are just beginning to harness common core material and implementation.

"We raised standards on tests and so some test scores went down, but I think eventually we will catch up," Cooper said.

Some businesses like Exxon Mobil spoke out in support of common core saying it makes children more equipped for future careers.

On the other side, supporters of the bill say other states are passing legislation to end common core so Lousiana should do the same.


Gov. Bobby Jindal's office submitted a card of support for HB 381.

House Bill 558 is another bill challenging common core. It would end current laws requiring certain math and english assessments through common core known at PARCC. This bill has not made it to committee discussions.

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7 months ago

Common Core up for debate in education committee

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers on the House Education Committee on Wednesday were considering whether Louisiana should scrap its participation in the Common Core education standards and the testing associated with it.

The debate is one of the highest-profile clashes of the legislative session, centered on what education standards the state should use to teach its public school students and what tests should judge what they learn. The issue divides education leaders, teachers and parents.

The committee was hearing a bill by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, that would have Louisiana draw up its own education standards in a multi-year process instead of using Common Core.

The state-specific standards would be developed by a 30-person commission and would need the backing of lawmakers before they could be rolled out in schools. Geymann said the development process would be more transparent, would involve state and local control and would be of the same quality or better than the Common Core.

"We're not taking a step back," said Rep. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, co-sponsor of the bill.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed in 2010 to phase in the Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states as a way to compare states' performance and add more rigorous training for students.

Supporters, including business leaders and Superintendent of Education John White, say the standards promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and better prepare them for college and careers.

White said shelving the Common Core would terminate the ability to measure children against their peers in other states and would cause teacher confusion by disrupting what they have started teaching.

"How does this bill help the children of the state of Louisiana? I have to tell you I have yet to hear a good response to that question," he said.

Backers of Geymann's bill say the standards didn't get enough public and legislative review and implementation was poorly handled. Critics of Common Core say using the multi-state standards shifts Louisiana to a nationalized education system that removes local control.

Leaders of organizations representing local school boards and superintendents said the roll-out of Common Core was uneven, with teachers having to write their own curricula, classrooms given few resources and parents provided little information about the standards.

"Superintendents feel like it's time to slow down and get the implementation of high standards right," said Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol, president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, who supported Geymann's bill.

BESE member Holly Boffy said changing standards doesn't address the challenges of applying new standards in classrooms and testing.

"This is going to be devastating if we are required to start over," said Judy Vail, Common Core specialist and accountability coordinator for Calcasieu Parish public schools.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has dodged the issue for months. It remained unclear where the governor stands on Geymann's proposal, and he was out of state Wednesday while the hours-long debate was raging.

Lawmakers considering the bill questioned when the new standards would be developed, since the proposal doesn't call for a deadline.

"I don't want to run into the problem of everyone's out in limbo for 10 years," said Rep. Simone Champagne, R-Erath.

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8 months ago

Jindal criticized for vagueness on Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A nonpartisan organization that supports Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards says Gov. Bobby Jindal has been too vague in his position about the toughened standards.

Jindal has described having "concerns" with Common Core and the associated testing, while also saying he supports high academic standards.

The Council for A Better Louisiana says it would be helpful to know specifically what the governor's concerns entail.

A statement released by CABL President Barry Erwin says Jindal has offered too little guidance to lawmakers grappling with whether to tweak the standards or scrap Common Core entirely.

Jindal refused again Thursday to be pinned down. He wouldn't say whether the state should shelve the Common Core or make modifications, saying he'll take a position when each proposal comes up for debate.

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11 months ago

Common Core yields odd political allegiances

WASHINGTON (AP) - To say that new academic standards have yielded strange bedfellows would be an understatement.

Republicans are fighting Republicans. Teacher unions are linking arms with tea partyers. President Barack Obama is working in tandem with big business.

When it comes to Common Core, forget the old allegiances.

Traditionally Democratic-leaning groups don't like the standardized tests and are finding allies among small-government conservatives, who loathe the benchmarks adopted by 45 states and in the District of Columbia. The Obama administration and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce want more students leaving high school ready for college courses or their first jobs.

In some instances, the rift splits the White House from its liberal allies. And the standards have produced a clear line of demarcation for the GOP.

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11 months ago

Common Core changes go to BESE for consideration

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Local school boards and public school superintendents are asking for a slow-down of Louisiana's shift to toughened educational standards.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Tuesday will consider changes sought by Education Superintendent John White to the roll-out of Common Core standards.

White is asking for a two-year delay for the consequences of the new standards on school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion policies.

The Louisiana School Boards Association and the Louisiana School Superintendents Association said on Monday they want BESE to go further.

They're asking the board to shelve plans for new standardized student tests and to suspend the grading of schools during the transition.

Common Core standards are grade-level benchmarks adopted by most states for what students should learn in English, reading and math.

1 year ago

State Superintendent Slows Down Impact of Common Core

The State Superintendent of Education is saying "not so fast", on some aspects of Common Core. It comes amid public backlash about the implementation of the new standards. At a press conference in Baton Rouge on Thursday, White proposed a delay on grading schools, students, and teachers on the new standards. Common Core is staying in schools, but White wants more time for the adjustment.

State Superintendent of Education John White is proposing a two year delay for holding schools, students, and teachers accountable to the new standards of Common Core. "It should give comfort to educators, students, and others who are working to learn these new expectations, that in this time of learning, the new expectation themselves are not the cause of a precipitous letter-grade drop", says White.

The new accountability standards will start in 2015, and the bar of expectation will be gradually raised over 10 years, with tougher expectations of accountability fully in place in 2025. "PARCC" is the test used to evaluate students in Common Core, and another change with that test---high school students will not have to take it until 2015. Grades 3-8 will take the test to evaluate just how effective the test it. So why the change of heart from one of the biggest supporters of Common Core? White addressed that in his presentation. "As times change, we know that teachers are going to catch up to the change at varying speeds, that students are going to be receiving instruction that is part of this transition process. They're learning too, their teachers are learning too, we don't want students to get unfairly caught up in a change process", says White.

The superintendent says he will officially make those recommendations to the BESE Board on December 4th. To view a complete breakdown of the changes to the policy, a link to today's full presentation can be found here.

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1 year ago

White suggests slowing down impact of Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's education superintendent Thursday proposed a two-year delay for the consequences from toughened educational standards on school grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion in public schools.

John White outlined recommendations for how he'd like to roll out the statewide shift to the Common Core standards, a more rigorous set of grade-level benchmarks adopted by most states for what students should learn in reading, writing and math.

He is suggesting the raising of accountability standards - like grading of students, schools and teachers - to match the Common Core shouldn't start until 2015, with a slow adjustment to toughen the school grades set to phase in through 2025.

White's proposal will be considered by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education next month. His recommendations are designed to lessen criticism of the state's use of the Common Core by lawmakers, parents and teacher unions.

"If we want Louisiana jobs to go to Louisiana graduates, we have to raise expectations for students," White said in a statement. "I have traveled the state seeking the input of educators and parents on how best to do this, and I believe that providing more time for educators, parents and students to learn these new expectations is critical to achieving that objective."

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core. BESE agreed to use the standards in Louisiana three years ago, and they are being phased into public school classrooms and testing, with plans to have them fully in place by the 2014-15 year.

Critics have said the transition to the standards in Louisiana has happened with too little guidance, training and funding. Lawmakers at a recent hearing said state education officials were holding teachers and students accountable without giving them enough preparation.

Changes proposed by White include:

-Tests taken by students in 2015 will be the baseline for slowly raising the bar for how schools are graded over a 10-year period. Public schools will be graded on a curve in 2014 and 2015, so that the same number of schools will be rated at the A, B and C level through 2015.

-New tests planned for 2015 will be taken by students in third grades through eighth grades, but not students in high school. Students in third and fourth grades will take the tests on paper, and the older students will take computerized tests. Schools will be eligible for one-year waivers on computerized testing if they don't have the technology.

-Teachers won't be judged based on growth in student achievement on standardized tests for 2014 and 2015. Their evaluations instead will rely on other information and scoring.

-Local school districts can give promotion waivers to fourth-grade students even if they don't pass the standardized testing requirements in 2014 and 2015, if the districts feel students are showing progress. Meanwhile, eighth-graders who don't pass the standardized testing requirements during that time can advance to high school and take remedial classes there.

White's also agreed to provide curriculum guidelines to school systems, after complaints that districts were left on their own to determine what they should be teaching to meet the standards.

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1 year ago

Parents & Children Protest Common Core

Some parents in Acadiana took their children out of school today to protest against the Common Core curriculum adopted by the state. The local walk-outs were part of a nationwide protest, against the new education standards.

Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved Common Core back in 2010. The 2013 school year was supposed to be a transitional year, but instead state schools were told they'd have to fully implement Common Core curriculums this school year.

While there has been big debate over Common Core, the turnout at a protest in Lafayette was relatively low.

"It's better that one person speaking for many people, than many people speaking for one person," six grader Wayne Laine said, who was protesting against Common Core.

About 20 people showed up at Girard Park for the protest. Among the protesters was 16-year-old Winter Hanks, a high school junior, who's having a hard time making the grade this year.

"I've cried a couple times, I come home and I'm not making the kind of grades I want to make, I'm trying the hardest I can," Winter Hanks said. "I made a "C" for the second time in my life on my report card. I (had) to do something about it. You know, I had to come out here," she said.

Hanks thinks Common Core is to blame, and says it was implemented too fast and not just for students.

"Teachers are struggling because they have deadlines they have to meet, they have certain goals they have to meet, and they're not going to meet it because they're not going to have time for anything," Hanks said. "It's unfair for the teachers and the students," she said.

For now, her message for students who may feel the same way she does, is to take a stand, and not stay quiet.

"If you're scared to speak up and say something, don't. Nothing is going to change unless you do it. The adults, your parents can say whatever they want, but it's never going to happen unless you go out and you do it," Hanks said.

Not every school system in Acadiana would report the number of student absences. Lafayette, St. Martin, Iberia, and Acadia Parish say today was pretty much a normal day as far as absences.

School systems in Vermilion, St. Mary, and Jeff Davis Parish say their absence numbers were slightly higher than normal. St. Landry Parish couldn't say how many students were absent, and there wasn't a response from Evangeline Parish.

Acadiana parishes we spoke to also say a reported absence because of participating in a Common Core protest would be counted as unexcused.

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1 year ago

RIGHT NOW: Common Core protest at Girard Park

RIGHT NOW: About two dozen people are protesting at Girard Park against Common Core. Several groups have called for parents to keep their kids home from school today, as part of nationwide walkout event. Allison Bourne-Vanneck? will have more tonight at 5 & 6.

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1 year ago

Schools Still in Session with Rumor of Common Core Protest

We've been receiving questions about a possible protest or walk out tomorrow in local schools involving common core. We have heard the rumors, but we've heard NO confirmation about this happening. Along with this, there have been NO reports of school closures anywhere in Acadiana!

1 year ago

Common Core Defended Before State House

A legislative committee is trying to get a clearer understanding of a subject that's become the topic of debate for many--Common Core.

State Superintendent John White and BESE President Chas Roemer were on hand to give a briefing on what the state should expect to see with the new standards. But with the tougher expectations in the classroom comes tougher questions from some state representatives.

With so many unanswered questions, some representatives expect more meetings on the topic.

While the meeting was meant to clarify exactly what common core was, there were many representatives left with more questions than answers.

"There really isn't a whole lot of disagreement that this transition has not gone well," says one of the Louisiana legislators at the discussion today.

The superintendent did clear up some confusion: science and social studies will remain the same for the time being, and school districts will be allowed alternate options to PARCC testing if their computer systems aren't up to snuff.

State Representative Wesley Bishop from District 99 in New Orleans says, "I understand the legitimate concerns of any parent who wants to make sure that the teachers are given the material or getting what they need in order to properly impart this to their children."

Due to the nature of the meeting, the public was not allowed to comment, but say they also have a lot to say about the transition to the new standards.

"I really don't think that John White is necessarily being as truthful about some of the information that he's giving, or the perceptions that he's giving to the legislators," says Debbie Meaux, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators.

While the standards are still in a transitional period, Superintendent White says five years should have been plenty of time to transition.

Alex Labat
alabat@katctv.com

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1 year ago

Lawmakers say shift to Common Core moving too fast

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Lawmakers who say they support toughening Louisiana's educational standards are criticizing state education leaders for the way the standards have been rolled out in school districts.

The comments came in a House briefing held Monday to discuss concerns that have been raised about the standards, called Common Core.

Superintendent of Education John White and the president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, defended the standards. They say the standards will improve student preparation for college and careers.

But lawmakers say the transition to the standards has happened with too little guidance and funding directed to the effort.

They questioned whether the state should slow down the shift to Common Core, worried the state is holding teachers and students accountable to the new standards without enough preparation.

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1 year ago

Common Core Briefing at the Capital

The Louisiana House of Representatives is meeting today for a briefing on all aspects of The Common Core Curriculum.

According to the agenda, State Superintendent John White and BESE President Chas Roemer will provide information on the status of the program's implementation.

Representatives also want to be better prepared to consider possible legislation concerning common core in the 2014 regular session. The briefing today will include a question and answer period for members of the house to ask questions of White and Roemer. The meeting is today at 1p.m. at the state capital.

Now there wont be public testimony at this meeting but the public will have opportunities to give their input at future meetings on this issue.

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1 year ago

Lawmakers to be briefed on Common Core; No public testimony allowed

The Louisiana House of Representatives will be meeting to discuss Common Core standards on Monday, November 4, 2013. According to the agenda, the purpose is to allow state Superintendent John White and State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer a chance to brief lawmakers on the new standards.

Representatives are expected to get background information on all aspects of Common Core, including the status of implementation, so that they can be better prepared to address their constituents' concerns. The agenda also says representatives also want to be better prepared to consider possible legislation concerning Common Core in the 2014 Regular Session.

The briefing on Monday will include a question and answer period for members of the House to ask questions of White and Roemer. However, they indicate they will not hear any public testimony at this briefing. They say public will have opportunities to provide testimony at future legislative committee meetings on this issue, as appropriate.

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1 year ago

BESE tweaks regulations for Common Core standards

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has tweaked its regulations governing the state's shift to tougher testing and educational standards.

BESE's decision Wednesday to make adjustments to its rules for use of the Common Core came a day after the board heard five hours of testimony from supporters and critics of the standards.

The board held firm to its support for Common Core, however, making only modest changes, which were approved in an 8-1 vote.

The changes spell out what state education leaders had already said was policy: that local school districts can choose their own instructional materials.

Added was a provision allowing parents of high school English students to opt their children out of reading materials deemed inappropriate.

BESE also tightened rules governing the use of student data.

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1 year ago

Common Core & Lafayette Charter Schools Hot Topics at BESE Meetings

Tuesday afternoon and into the night, The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) finally heard public comment about educational reforms known as Common Core. Common core is a set of educational standards which 46 states have agreed to follow. Louisiana has ranked near the bottom in both math and literacy. BESE adopted these standards back in 2010 as a way to challenge students and make them more competitive with students from other states.

A packed house filled the BESE headquarters with supporters and critics of the standards.The new educational system has slowly been put in over the past three years, but the voices opposing this change are getting louder.

Superintendent of Education John White spoke first at the meeting hoping to clear up any misconceptions about what the program is bringing.

"States beyond Louisiana recognized the need to do this. They came together and under the umbrella of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, states got together recognizing they had a competitive challenge that it no longer made any sense to call something proficient in New Hampshire, something different from proficient in Oklahoma, from proficient in California and Louisiana. That a kid in Louisiana is just as smart as a kid anywhere in America, and should be able to read as well and do math just as well as anyone else," Superintendent White said.

St. Mary Parish resident Brooke Falgout has children who've gone through early implementation of the program. She says the material presented isn't giving her child an outside view. She's already taken one of her youngest children out of school, opting now for home school instead. She spoke up at the meeting voicing her displeasure and holding up more than 100 signatures of other parents upset with what is happening.

"I want it out. I'm good with our 1950's books. I'm OK with what they had and we can add things in because they can be challenged, but there's ways to do that and it's not this," Falgout said.

Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan says there are problems with implementing Common Core and that teachers need more training before moving forward.

"BESE has to step up and realize that they've got real problems out there, particularly as it effects educators and children, just getting folks the resources they need to understand just what it is they are being asked to do, Monagahan said.

Westgate High School teacher Lauren Trahan sees it differently. She says she's had support from Iberia Parish Schools while transitioning to Common Core and her kids have shown amazing improvement.

"It's kids of every level, inclusion, poverty level or high achieving are all being able to read complex texts at a level that, blows my mind. Areas that are not so familiar with them it is scary to try anything new, but I tell them, try it and you're going to like it. The kids are blowing me away and it brings back that wow factor into the classroom that has been dead for so long," Trahan said.

No matter what, Common Core is set to be fully implemented statewide in the Fall of 2014.

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Also at the BESE board Tuesday, strong words were exchanged on both sides of the charter school debate. A BESE committee voted 9-2 in favor of bringing charter schools to Lafayette Parish.The debate has been raging for two months, since the Lafayette Parish School Board voted against charter schools.

Familiar faces packed into the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committee meeting on Tuesday with two very different objectives.

"The support, as I know, you'll hear from additional speakers is unprecedented and I ask for your support", one supporter said during the meeting.

"Thank you very much but charter schools do not fit in Lafayette Parish and we'd appreciate a vote against this", Lafayette Parish School Board member Rae Trahan said.

Those in support of charter schools say it brings much needed infrastructure to areas in Lafayette that need it most.

"What concerns me is our immediate future," Broussard Mayor and charter school supporter Charlie Langlinais said.

Opponents say there are too many questions and concerns about the two proposed schools which are unanswered.

"We work very hard to ensure that all children in Lafayette Parish will get a wonderful education as we already feel our public schools are serving our students", Swamp BESE member Kathleen Espinoza said.

Tuesdays 9-2 committee vote in favor of the schools means Lafayette Parish may see two charter schools built in 2014, two in 2015 and one in 2017. Superintendent and BESE member Dr. Lottie Beebe sees the urgency for charter schools as poor leadership in the Lafayette School System.

"I question Superintendent Coopers decision and recommendation to align with a charter entity. When in reality it is his responsibility and his charge as Superintendent of the district to make the changes that are necessary to impact student achievement", Beebe said.

Lafayette Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper sees things differently.

"I see it as just the opposite. If I'm going to sit at my desk with blinders on and not consider any options, then I'm not much of a leader," Cooper said.

A final vote will be held by BESE Wednesday morning to determine if charter schools will be coming to Lafayette Parish.

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1 year ago

BESE takes on Common Core issues

State Superintendent of Education John White opens the discussion of Common Core standards with a presentation of how the push for the standards came into being in Louisiana and why BESE decided to jump on board.

KATC TV-3's Steven Albritton is reporting from Baton Rouge on tonight's meeting. He will have updates throughout the evening and a full report during our 10 p.m. newscast.

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1 year ago

St. Tammany votes to throw out Common Core

A southeastern Louisiana parish has voted to kick Common Core out of its schools.

WDSU reports that the St. Tammany Parish School Board voted 14-0 last night to approve a resolution opposing Common Core. However, the state's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is the only body that can stop the implementation of curriculum.

Louisiana is one of 45 states that adopted the national educational guidelines.

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1 year ago

Leader says schools given little Common Core help

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association says state education leaders have improperly left local districts to grapple with applying a more rigorous set of testing standards that the state adopted.

Louisiana's education board voted three years ago to use the Common Core standards, a tougher set of benchmarks for what students should learn.

Scott Richard, representing the school boards, said Monday that Superintendent of Education John White made the shift to those new standards more difficult last year, when he scrapped a state-led transition plan.

Richard says the decision left local districts to develop their own curricula that match the Common Core standards and to upgrade technology to cope with new computerized tests.

White has called it empowering for teachers and districts to design their own curricula.

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1 year ago

State Superintendent Defends Common Core Curriculum

State Superintendent of Education John White is continuing his statewide tour.

Today, he stopped in Lafayette Parish at Truman Montessori and N.P. Moss Prep. The goal of the tour is to highlight innovative teaching and to get feedback from educators on what's working in the classroom. White spoke about the importance of early childhood education.

Though that was his main focus, we asked about common core curriculum. Teachers and parents have been outspoken on this issue.

Common core is a set of uniform national standards for public school testing. Supporters say it will better prepare students for college and will change the way teachers instruct their students. The curriculum has sparked debates across the state.

Last weekend in Baton Rouge, more than one hundred people rallied in front of the Department of Education. Despite the protests, State Superintendent of Education, John White says the curriculum is here to stay.

"We've been working on these expectations the last three and a half years. We're not going to just put the brakes on and put it in reverse going back to lower expectations," said White.

He says the standards put Louisiana students on a level playing field with the rest of the nation.

"I think when it comes to the new standards, first and foremost, we've got to realize Louisiana kids are just as smart, just as capable as any children in America."

Some teachers and parents are concerned. Teachers have contacted KATC saying their common core curriculum isn't complete.

"Actually, most teachers have the curriculum guidance they need. 2,000 teachers trained here in Lafayette this summer to make sure they're ready to plan. Is change hard? Absolutely and the textbook publishers are changing with us. I think our educators have the tools because we put the decision making power in their hands to make the adjustments they need to make," said White.

The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will discuss common core during its October 15th committee meetings. Board member Lottie BeeBe says she placed the discussion on the agenda to answer some of the concerns of her constituents.

The meeting will take place at the BESE headquarters and is open to the public.

Chris Welty
cwelty@katctv.com

1 year ago

Concerned Parents Against Common Core

In Vermilion Parish, two Abbeville mothers have created a Facebook group called "Concerned Parents Against Common Core." Since being created, the group has grown rapidly in numbers. The mothers who created the group speak on their opposition to Common Core, and Vermilion Parish's Superintendent about his position on these academic standards.

Check out the video below.

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1 year ago

Lawmaker to Jindal: Keep La. out of Common Core

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Jefferson Parish lawmaker is urging Gov. Bobby Jindal to stop the state from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing, called the Common Core.

Republican Rep. Cameron Henry sent Jindal a letter asking him to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core, calling it a "tool of federal coercion."

Henry posted his letter online Monday. He says he'll seek to bar Louisiana from Common Core in the next legislative session.

Common Core standards measure skills and knowledge in subjects such as math and English. They are being phased in by Louisiana, adopted by the state education board in 2010.

Supporters say the uniform standards will better prepare students for college and careers. Critics say Louisiana is abdicating local control of its curriculum to the federal government.

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1 year ago

RIGHT NOW: Vermilion Parish School Board to discuss Common Core

The ongoing concern over the implementation of a Common Core curriculum in the Vermilion Parish School System is up for discussion during that parish's school board meeting.

The concerns of some parents were heightened this week when one mother expressed outrage over her child's homework examples, which included terms like "pimp" and references to weapons.

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1 year ago

Senate rejects move to stop Common Core standards

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A resolution pushed by tea party groups seeking to keep the state from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing was killed Thursday by the Louisiana Senate.

Senators voted 27-8 to shelve the legislation and keep it from moving any further, a day after the Senate Education Committee advanced the proposal without taking action.

Education Committee Chairman Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, asked senators to scrap the legislation, saying Sen. A.G. Crowe's resolution contained "a number of assumptions that are not true."

Crowe, R-Slidell, said he was not attempting to stop implementation of the Common Core standards, but just wanted to continue the debate because of concerns from his constituents.

"This is not about whether we should have Common Core standards, it's about the how," Crowe said. "The resolution is about how it will be implemented."

However, the resolution urged the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Department of Education to "immediately terminate all plans, programs, activities, and expenditures relative to implementation" of Common Core.

Common Core state standards have been adopted in 45 states and are currently being phased in to Louisiana schools. The standards, created by committees of education officials from those states, are a grade-by-grade rubric of skills and knowledge that students should acquire in core subject areas, such as math and English.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the new standards in 2010, and they will be fully phased into Louisiana's curriculum and testing by the 2014-15 school year.

Appel said passing the resolution would cast aspersion on the standards.

He said testimony from educators Wednesday debunked several claims contained in the resolution, including that student's mental health and family status will be used for Common Core tests and assignments, that states were pressured into adopting the standards and that teachers won't be able to tailor classroom lessons.

"Common core is not curricula. Common Core is a set of standards," in which each school district sets its own curriculum, Appel said.

Opponents say by adopting the national standards, Louisiana is abdicating local control of its curriculum to the federal government. In addition, backers of the resolution say they are concerned about the way student information will be collected and used by the U.S. Department of Education. They fear the information will not be secure and could lead to privacy issues.

Tea party supporters characterized Common Core in the committee testimony as "federalized government" and the "nationalization of education."

Use of the Common Core standards is supported by state Education Superintendent John White. He said BESE will have a meeting in June at which student data collection will be discussed.

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