Four members of Louisiana’s top school board and 28 state lawmakers said Thursday that they think progress is being made on the volatile issue of Common Core.
“The past few days have seen some very encouraging developments concerning public education in Louisiana, and we are optimistic that more important work can and will be accomplished over the next few months for the best interests of the children of our state,” the group said in a prepared statement.
Those signing the “open letter” include Carolyn Hill, of Baton Rouge; Jane Smith, of Bossier City; Mary Harris, of Shreveport; and Lottie Beebe, of Breaux Bridge.
All four are members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and all have been critical of the new standards and the tests that go with them.
Lawmakers who endorsed the message include state Reps. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville; Valerie Hodges, R-Denham Springs; Cameron Henry, R-Metairie; Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville; J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs; and Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell.
The group said it was encouraged by comments on Monday by state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs Common Core and its assessments, and a letter by four other lawmakers who made some recommendations on school accountability steps.
White told reporters that, subject to review by BESE, the state later this year will seek bids on new Common Core exams that include both questions like those on the exams next month as well as those formulated by Louisiana officials.
The superintendent also said he favors establishment later this year of a panel of parents, teachers and higher education experts to start work this fall to review math and English standards slightly ahead of schedule.
State law requires such reviews every seven years.
Such a panel “is one that we have long advocated,” the BESE members and lawmakers said.
However, the group said the state needs to drop out of Common Core before any such review.
The officials also praised plans for the state to add a year — 2015-16 — to the baseline period before public school letter grades and other accountability measures are resumed.
About 300,000 students in grades three through eight are set to take Common Core tests March 16-20.
Lawsuits aimed at shelving the exams are pending.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick ruled Thursday that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core can proceed.
The Obama administration argued in November that the legal challenge should be tossed.
Dick set an evidentiary hearing for May 28.
In a prepared statement, Jindal praised the decision.
“Common Core is the latest attempt by Washington, D.C., to federalize the education system, and it must be stopped,” the governor said.
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