The recent commentary of Robert Scott with the Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana is a disappointment. PAR has provided so much information in the past with thoughtful analysis, yet it seems PAR is now taking the position held by the media and business organizations that blindly support Common Core.
The real dispute over Common Core relates to who will control the education of Louisiana children. Will out-of-state trade organizations that own the copyright to the “standards” control or will education be left in the hands of Louisiana legislators, educators and parents? Teachers have been bullied into silence. Parents have been left out of the debate until most recently.
Accountability for any failure of the government system lies with the superintendent of education and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Only after Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive orders on June 19 did BESE meet on July 1 to discuss tests for next year. Only three members voted to address the need to put out a competitive request for proposals for tests for the 2014-15 school year. The rest of the board neglected their responsibility to students, teachers and parents and voted to hire legal counsel to consider a lawsuit against the governor. No contract for assessments was prepared for the 2014-15 school year. Superintendent John White wants to frame the disagreement around test questions and preparations to take the focus off of his past questionable contracts for assessments. The governor never suggested he wanted to “drive test preparation” but is asking that the Louisiana Department of Education and BESE follow state bid laws. Any responsibility for a delay in getting tests for the upcoming school year lies with BESE and the superintendent.
Scott suggests that backing off of Common Core will damage the national profile of the state. The facts show otherwise. Massachusetts was the No. 1 state nationally but has dropped in national ranking under the new “standards.” New York now has 70 percent of students failing under Common Core. Either Scott is uninformed or he chooses not to review facts that don’t support his organization’s now public position. He also suggests that the federal government has no part in the assessment process. Both companies, PARCC and SBAC, are preparing Common Core tests and are funded by the federal government.
PAR’s commentary is more of a political hit piece on the governor than a discussion of Common Core in Louisiana. Regrettably, this will reflect poorly on the organization and its ability to discern in the future issues that concern the public.