The huge number of Jindal backers and prominent business people objecting strongly to the governor’s about-face on the Common Core issue is remarkable.
A statement from 40 organizations, including teachers and education groups as well as business reformers, was issued by the Council for a Better Louisiana.
“We were extremely disappointed to see the governor abandon his original support for both of these critically important education initiatives,” it said, referring to the Common Core standards and the tests aligned with the new standards. “We believe he is attempting to move Louisiana in a direction that our Legislature and BESE do not want us to go with respect to the education of our children, and we believe he is utilizing inappropriate executive overreach to try to achieve that.”
The majority on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education appear unwilling to bend to the governor’s initiative. Good for them.
The governor is trying to kill a state contract to keep the education department from buying testing material for third-graders through eighth-graders that is tied to Common Core. Jindal says the department didn’t follow state procurement law in choosing the standardized test it would use, a strange assertion as the same process has been followed since 2003. That is why the CABL statement notes the inappropriate executive overreach, and the statement is right.
That date, too, ought to resonate with Jindal: His mentor, then-Gov. Mike Foster, was then in the process of pushing high-stakes testing and accountability for performance in public education. It has been advanced since by Gov. Kathleen Blanco, and until his recent about-face, by Jindal himself.
The state’s long-term commitment to accountability is vital to the business community, which sees more effective schools as a key to Louisiana’s economic viability. That is why the business reform group Blueprint Louisiana and major chambers of commerce across the state are among the signers of the CABL statement.
“We are not backing down and not going away,” the groups said. “We support Common Core and nationally comparable student testing for one reason only. It will help our kids learn at higher levels so they can compete for a job or in a university setting with students from anywhere in the country and the world.”
That’s a challenge from his old friends that Jindal should not ignore.