In the always contentious world of Common Core, there is yet another dispute — whether the term itself should be retired.
Some backers of the standards say that, because the academic benchmarks are being reviewed and about to get a Louisiana imprint of sorts, Common Core is an outdated term.
“We are in the process of revising those standards, so next year our students will have the Louisiana state standards,” said Holly Boffy, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and a longtime backer of the overhaul.
Not so fast, says state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, and one of the Legislature’s top critics of the benchmarks.
“It is very much in play with our side,” Geymann said of two words that have sparked controversy in Louisiana for the past 27 months.
He said backers want to dump the words because the phrase is politically radioactive.
“They want to change how people refer to it so that it is not toxic,” Geymann said.
The dispute echoes similar ones in other states, including Florida, Iowa and Arizona, according to news accounts.
Veteran backers of the overhaul, after years of arguments and angry public hearings, say that the benchmarks are evolving and so should the terminology.
Brigitte Nieland, who follows public school issues for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and backs the changes, noted that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education calls the guidelines Louisiana standards.
“I just think most people want to get away from the phrase ‘Common Core,’ ” Nieland said. “We are all aware of how toxic that term is.”
BESE President Chas Roemer, one of the state’s most outspoken backers of the changes, agreed. “The Common Core issue is really done with in this state,” Roemer said.
“People can still use it for political purposes but the reality is we have set a system to review the standards and we will end up with something that is Louisiana standards,” he said.
One committee and three subcommittees — about 100 members in all — are reviewing Common Core before making recommendations to BESE next year.
BESE will then suggest changes of its own and send the plans to the House and Senate education committees and the next governor.
However, Common Core is in public school classrooms for the second year, and it is unclear whether the changes will be sweeping or cosmetic.
The standards have been a flashpoint in some of the eight BESE races on this year’s ballot, and all six winners in the Oct. 24 election are considered backers of the overhaul.
They are also a key topic in one of two BESE contests on the Nov. 21 ballot — the District 6 battle to succeed Roemer.
Kathy Edmonston, who lives in Gonzales, has spent months blasting the overhaul and vowing to take corrective action on BESE.
Edmonston also accused opponent Jason Engen, who lives in Baton Rouge, of being a Johnny-come-lately to denouncing Common Core, and notes that he is backed by LABI and other pro-Common Core groups.
Engen says he opposes the benchmarks but believes the issue is largely moot because of the review.
“The Common Core issue is done,” he said.
Amy Lemoine, who lives in Lafayette and is part of the Flip BESE movement, said it is telling that Common Core backers tried to distance themselves from the standards in BESE races.
“Common Core by any other name will still have the same problems,” Lemoine said in an email response to questions.
“The patch job being done with the standards review and a new name will be equal to lipstick on a big fat ugly ole’ pig,” she wrote.
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