Gov. Bobby Jindal unveiled a two-prong plan Wednesday that he said will rid the state of Common Core.
Jindal told reporters that he will back legislation that sets up a new process to adopt education standards using a panel of parents, educators and school leaders.
In the meantime, he said public schools will use grade-level expectations from 2004-05 and renew use of the LEAP and iLEAP exams that were employed for years to measure student achievement.
On a second front, the governor said he will back legislation that puts new restrictions on the ability of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to enter into contracts and other agreements with third parties.
That effort is aimed at derailing future contracts like the ones BESE and the state Department of Education are using now for Common Core tests that began on Monday.
A 19th Judicial District judge in August issued an injunction to lift the Jindal administration’s suspension of two state test contracts needed for the exams.
That ruling is being appealed.
“The package of legislation will make clear that the federal government or third parties do not have control over Louisiana’s schools, and help ensure that Louisiana parents and teachers create Louisiana standards and curriculum,” the governor said.
State Superintendent of Education John White and BESE President Chas Roemer, who back Common Core and are former Jindal allies, issued blistering denunciations of the governor’s comments in a conference call with reporters.
White said Jindal’s proposal would return the state to inferior education standards, and force state lawmakers and others to approve new ones in an “unprecedented scheme of bureaucracy and an extraordinarily costly maneuver.” The superintendent said the governor’s initiative is “quite literally a political plan.”
White also said the governor is aligned with “extreme outliers” and that his comments are a “sad statement” amid rising student achievement.
The two measures discussed on Wednesday will be among a host of Common Core proposals debated during the 2015 Legislature, which begins on April 13.
Jindal, a former backer of the standards, has become a national critic of the overhaul in reading, writing and math guidelines. The issue is one he hammers on often during national travels in advance of what could be a longshot bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
Jindal made his announcement on the third day of Common Core tests that about 316,000 students in grades three through eight are taking. While some parents opted to have their children skip the test White said the statewide participation rate remains at 99 percent.
It also came on the same day that state educators began mapping plans to review Louisiana’s standards in math and English as part of a once-every-seven-years process.
White repeatedly told a group of educators during a 90-minute briefing that the months-long review ordered by BESE now is aimed at modifying the current guidelines, not replacing them.
“We do not want to make educators go back and do this work all over again,” White said Wednesday morning.
The state’s top school board approved Common Core in 2010 and 2014.
Jindal was accompanied by about half a dozen anti-Common Core lawmakers and BESE member Jane Smith, who lives in Bossier City and is a critic of the standards.
“Common Core State Standards are bad for Louisiana and the worst part of all is they are bad for students and families,” said state Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria.
Last year, bills to shelve the standards and assessments that go with them died in the Legislature after hours of often heated committee testimony.
The governor said he thinks this time will be different because of increasing opposition from mothers, sentiment which he said is being relayed to public office holders.
“They have been at the forefront,” he said of moms who are critical of Common Core.
Roemer said Jindal’s proposal “is so poorly thought out it almost does not deserve comment.”
He said relying on 2004-05 education standards while new ones are drafted means the governor “literally wants to go back in time.”
“What they have pointed us to are standards that are far inferior to the standards that we have in place now,” said Roemer, who lives in Baton Rouge.
Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s chief of staff, said in an email that White and Roemer “have resorted to negative personal attacks on parents because they can’t defend Common Core anymore. It’s sad.”
The governor said Common Core represents federal interference in local education issues and includes “fuzzy math.”
Exams that go with the standards stem from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
Jindal said his three children have complained about the standards and that one returned from school with a joke about PARCC spelled backward — minus one of the C’s.
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