Despite his concerns about Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal will back a state bid to land a $15 million federal prekindergarten grant.
Jindal’s office made the announcement Monday after days of letter exchanges between the governor, who opposes Common Core, and state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs the classroom standards.
Jindal repeatedly said he was concerned that the grant would be linked to the new academic standards in reading, writing and math.
White disagreed and said the money could finance pre-K services for about 800 4-year-olds from low-income families per year for four years.
He said he thinks the families of about 5,000 homebound youngsters would take advantage of the openings.
“We appreciate John’s patience and his willingness to take the time to respond to our concerns,” Shannon Bates, a spokeswoman for Jindal, said in a prepared statement.
“He has made it clear that this grant will not fund Common Core standards and the programs funded will not be impacted by the future removal of Common Core standards from our K-12 system, so we will support the grant application,” according to the statement.
Common Core standards are being taught in classrooms statewide, and students are set to be tested on them in the spring.
However, the governor is challenging the new classroom goals in state and federal courts.
Jindal earlier wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for assurances that the grant money would not be linked to the new academic guidelines.
The state is overhauling its pre-K system as the result of a 2012 state law that the governor pushed. The changes include early learning performance guidelines for children up to age 3 and academic standards for 3- and 4-year-olds.
In one of his letters to White, the governor said the state Department of Education’s website says the standards “are aligned with the K-12 Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics.”
Jindal’s letter said it was unclear how the grant dollars would not be used for Common Core if the early learning standards are tied to the overhaul.
White said in a letter to Jindal, sent on Saturday, that Common Core covers students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
“The Louisiana early learning standards cover earlier ages and are not Common Core State Standards,” White wrote.
“The early learning standards equip children with skills like how to hold a pencil, how to identify a color and how to be polite,” he said. “Children equipped with these skills will be prepared for any kindergarten using any standard.”
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