Applauded by Gov. Bobby Jindal, opponents of Common Core have held two town hall meetings and plan six more statewide in a final bid to kill the new educational standards in the Legislature.
State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said Friday that because next year is an election year and Jindal is now a top critic of the overhaul, bills to shelve the standards will have a better chance than they did earlier.
“So things are a little different in the spring of 2015 than they were in the spring of 2014,” said Geymann, who organized the first anti-Common Core gathering in Moss Bluff on Sept. 29.
Organizers said about 800 people attended.
In an interview, Jindal said the meetings could pave the way for the Legislature to pass bills to curb the standards. Such bills repeatedly failed during the 2014 session.
“I do think it will put pressure on legislators,” the governor said.
Jindal’s office issued a prepared statement on Friday that cited complaints about Common Core that surfaced in Houma on Thursday night.
Other gatherings are scheduled between now and early November in Baton Rouge, Abbeville, Lafayette, St. Tammany Parish, Alexandria and Bossier City, Geymann said.
State Superintendent of Education John White, who backs Common Core, said rolling back the standards would be a huge mistake.
“The thought of throwing it in reverse, that’s a recipe for chaos,” White said. “You can’t just undo five years of work by flipping a switch.”
Common Core represents new academic standards in reading, writing and math. The standards are being taught in classrooms statewide.
A judge in August issued an injunction that lifted the Jindal administration’s suspension of two state test contracts that White and others plan to use for spring exams aligned with the new standards.
However, the court ruling is being appealed, and Jindal has launched a separate challenge in federal court.
Geymann and four other lawmakers recently traveled to Oklahoma City, where the Legislature there killed Common Core earlier this year.
He said the town hall meetings were one of the ideas that emerged from their meeting with some Oklahoma senators, representatives and others on Aug. 22.
“The key for them was the involvement of the grass-roots efforts and that they never could have done it without it,” Geymann said.
State Rep. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, who also made the trip, said the gatherings could ignite a spark that paves the way for the approval of anti-Common Core bills when the Legislature meets in 2015.
“I don’t think the legislators are going to do it unless they get enough input from their constituents,” said Pope, who was superintendent of the Livingston Parish school system from 1987 to 2001.
Barry Erwin, president of the pro-Common Core Council for a Better Louisiana, said the rallies already have featured some of the same opponents of the standards that earlier this year tried unsuccessfully to make their case to state lawmakers.
“Some of the messages that are coming out of the meetings didn’t resonate with the Legislature the first time, and I don’t think they will again,” Erwin said.
Jindal, who said he remains confident on the legal front, also said the new standards have caused him problems as a parent.
“Common Core is making math unnecessarily complicated,” he said. “It has frustrated a lot of students.”
Said Geymann, “If we go another year, then it becomes incredibly difficult. The spring of 2015 is the best chance.”