Education

Jul 1, 2014 12:40 PM by AP

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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