Much of the problem with education in Louisiana is that there has been too much focus on standards and testing and not enough on education. If teachers are doing a good job (which requires good teachers and a principal who has the backbone to stand behind them), any reasonably valid test is going to show that the children are learning.

There are two points I would make about Common Core. First, the standards are not bad; I would argue with a few, but that’s not the point of this letter. More importantly, Common Core is all core and no apple. Its logo — an artistically chewed apple — makes that clear. An education includes English, math, science, social studies, art, music, health and physical education. In fact, research shows that physically fit children score higher than their less fit peers on math and language achievement tests.

Parents who want their children to do well should look at the overall curriculum and school environment. Are the children engaged in lesson content instead of sitting there either glassy-eyed or messing around? Does the class have a pleasant atmosphere that supports teaching and learning? Do the children have daily physical education and weekly music and art? In the weeks before testing, are the teachers teaching or have art, music, and physical education been cancelled to allow more cramming for the test? After spring testing, do classes continue as usual or is everyone goofing around, going on field trips or just sliding? Regardless of standards and political posturing, the answers to these questions tell you whether the school is good. Test scores will just confirm it.

Charlotte Humphries