Closed-door negotiations continued Tuesday on ways to stop another divisive legislative clash about Common Core education standards, but it wasn’t clear the two sides could reach terms in time to stop the first round of contentious debates.
Hearings were scheduled Wednesday in two Louisiana House committees on bills pushed by Common Core opponents to yank the multistate standards from Louisiana’s classrooms and enact ethics restrictions on state education leaders who support the standards.
But those bills would be pulled from consideration — and either reworked or scrapped — if a compromise can be reached involving a wholesale review of Louisiana’s education standards that could lead to state-specific English and math benchmarks.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, education leaders and lawmakers were talking behind the scenes.
“We still have work to do. There are sticking points,” Jindal chief of staff Kyle Plotkin said. The Republican governor opposes Common Core and has made getting rid of the standards one of the main pieces of his legislative agenda
The Common Core standards are benchmarks of what students should learn at each grade level in English and math. They’ve been adopted by more than 40 states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. Opponents say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education.
A possible compromise under consideration, outlined in a two-page draft obtained by The Associated Press, could give the House and Senate education committees and the governor the ability to reject standards developed in a planned review process. It would require the standards to go through Louisiana’s Administrative Procedures Act. The act requires public notice, a comment period and legislative oversight.
The concept wouldn’t directly mandate the removal of Common Core from public school classrooms, but Jindal is unlikely to approve standards that either maintain or simply rebrand Common Core as Louisiana standards.
However, sticking points include whether the review process would wrap up during Jindal’s term or after a new governor takes office in January. Also, a point of dispute involves which standards public schools would use if the House and Senate education committees or the governor reject the standards that emerge from the review.
Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, one of the chief Common Core critics, said the working concept “needs more work.”
“I think everyone is talking in good faith. I think everyone wants to see if we can come to an agreement. But we’re not there yet,” he said Tuesday. “There’s some missing pieces. There’s a lot of what-ifs.”
House Education Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, a Common Core supporter, refused to talk about the draft compromise, calling it confidential.
“All I want to do is what’s best for the kids. I don’t know what a compromise would be,” Carter said.
In prior years, lawmakers have refused to shelve the standards. Superintendent of Education John White and the state education board also have rejected attempts to jettison the multistate standards.