Teacher union says schools ill-prepared for Common Core tests _lowres

Advocate Photo by MARK BALLARD -- State Superintendent of Education John White.

In a challenge to Gov. Bobby Jindal, state Superintendent of Education John White said Tuesday morning that teachers deserve clarity on Common Core test plans rather than having the issue “tossed about in the morning headlines” on whether they will be scrapped.

“You should not have to fear last-minute changes,” White said in remarks prepared for delivery to about 4,000 public school teachers. “You should have certainty at this moment in time.”

The comments mark the latest sign that Jindal, who pushed White for the job, and the superintendent are increasingly split on the value of tests set to accompany the new academic standards in reading, writing and math.

Jindal, a former Common Core supporter, has since criticized the national academic goals and earlier backed a bill to shelve them.

He has also repeatedly said that he may take unilateral action to shelve the assessments that go with Common Core, which are being developed by a consortium called PARCC.

Jindal has repeatedly said he wanted to see whether the Legislature would take action on the exams.

No such bill won final approval.

The chief Common Core bill that cleared its final hurdle on Sunday simply extends for one year state plans to sideline yearly accountability rules during the transition to new standards, which take full effect for the 2014-15 school year.

White is set to make his comments this morning to a two-day gathering called the Teacher Leaders Summit in New Orleans.

The superintendent has long touted the positives of the Common Core tests.

He also contends that Jindal cannot order an end to exam plans alone, and that it would take the backing of White and Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, to do so.

White has often complained that it is unfair to rank-and-file teachers who, after four years of preparation, to be left wondering whether Common Core test plans will happen as scheduled next year.

“You should be able to trust the standards and curricula and guidebooks and rubrics and frameworks and, yes, the tests, that you study here in New Orleans over the next two days will be part of the Louisiana plan this year and for years to come,” he said in prepared remarks distributed by the state Department of Education.

White said his department and BESE “will stand up for the idea that you, like your kids, deserve clarity, you deserve a long-term plan, you deserve not to have the standards and curriculum and assessment tossed about in the morning headlines like they can be changed with the waving of a magic wand.”

A spokesman for Jindal said that a comment will be issued later Tuesday.

White was hired by BESE, and Jindal in the past has downplayed their differences on Common Core.

However, the split between the governor and his top public schools lieutenant is becoming increasingly apparent on a national issue involving a governor with national political ambitions.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/