While the push to derail Common Core is often attributed to Republicans and conservatives, Louisiana teacher unions that are mostly aligned with Democrats are nearly as vocal in blasting the overhaul.
Both the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Educators backed legislation earlier this year that would have scrapped the standards in favor of others.
Both groups have sought the suspension of annual letter grades for public schools while the new guidelines take effect.
The LAE also has called for a three-year delay in any impact that the revamped standards have on teachers and students.
The LFT said a survey of its teachers showed schools were not technologically ready for Common Core exams, which Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal cited during his turnaround from being a Common Core backer to a fervent opponent.
Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, said the issue often has been framed as a states rights, pro- or anti-Obama issue in part because it is easier to follow that way.
“I do think that becomes the much more interesting frame for most people,” Monaghan said. “It is easy to digest.”
Scott Richard, executive director of the Louisiana School Boards Association, said Common Core criticism often has been portrayed as a conservative-led effort because “the national politics seeps into the discussion.
“And you have that particular element of dissatisfaction with Common Core simply because of the national politics,” Richard said, a reference to Obama administration support for the changes and the intense criticism that has triggered.
The views on the academic guidelines also represent another example of the odd coalitions spawned by the national debate over the new standards in reading, writing and math.
Teacher unions, both in Louisiana and nationwide, are usually on the same page with Democrats.
But Common Core criticism has aligned the LFT and LAE with longtime foe Jindal and in front of the push to get rid of or revamp the standards in Louisiana.
However, while the governor and teacher unions are united in their opposition to Common Core, or key parts, there are major differences in why.
Jindal and some others view Common Core as federal intrusion and contend the standards are riddled with flaws.
“The feds are taking over and rushing this,” Jindal said in May, and he compared the overhaul to centralized planning in Russia.
Teacher unions generally are less critical of the standards and more bothered by what they see as a botched rollout of the public school overhaul.
“Teach the standards,” Monaghan said during a meeting with the editorial board of The Advocate. “They are doing it now.”
But he said the issue has become so toxic that a testing moratorium is needed and the standards should be subject to changes.
Debbie Meaux, president of the LAE, said while the academic guidelines “could be a road map to student achievement,” they need more work.
“Because they were developed without major input from our educators, there is great suspicion of the standards,” Meaux said.
She also said her group has problems with Common Core test plans and believes that teachers have never gotten adequate training.
Common Core has sparked controversy in Louisiana for more than a year and has triggered multiple lawsuits.
Backers of the standards won a key court victory last month when 19th Judicial District Court Judge Todd Hernandez, of Baton Rouge, issued an injunction to lift the Jindal administration’s suspension of two state test contracts.
State education leaders plan to use those agreements for spring tests linked to Common Core.
Attorneys for Jindal are appealing the ruling.
Some state lawmakers have said privately that they view teacher union opposition to Common Core as a way to get out of accountability measures unions have long opposed, including new teacher evaluations and annual letter grades for public schools.
The state plans to grade public schools on a curve during the 2014-15 school year to avoid major drops in grades.
Also, teachers will not be evaluated this school year on the growth of student achievement — called value added — as a concession to changes sparked by Common Core.
Monaghan said heated divisions over the new standards have hampered the debate.
“It makes it impossible to go to the table and have a conversation about what the problems are,” he said.