There cannot be a genuine compromise on Common Core, if that means Louisiana steps back from higher standards in public school classrooms.
What we are seeing in the Legislature is a truce, not a compromise.
It is politics, not good policy.
Opponents of the new standards faced a bleak legislative prospect before the House Education Committee, which has been a bastion of support for raising the academic bar. But it is an election year, and opponents of the Common Core standards have made a lot of noise.
Compromise is called for politically, with a new Legislature, a new state education board and a new governor all due to take office early next year. Much of the “compromise” is about procedure, not the merits of higher academic standards.
A much-publicized argument is that the standards were adopted without sufficient public input. This is mythology, as the new standards were launched by several states, including Louisiana, and adopted after public meetings by the state education board in 2010. Since, there has been much other public comment and discussion and elaborate meetings and other mechanisms for input by teachers and principals, as well as parents.
There is also a myth that the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has somehow foisted “national” standards on Louisiana, even though the standards were developed by states and only thereafter blessed by the U.S. government. Some states have different standards and different groups developing their test questions. However, any association with President Barack Obama agitates conservatives, even if in this case Obama’s role is minimal, and the business community in Louisiana — and Republican education leaders, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — also back Common Core standards.
So the Legislature’s grand compromise with House Education leaders and opponents of Common Core mandates a redundant series of public meetings and an accelerated schedule for reassessment, and hopefully improvement, of the standards. That’s what the BESE board has already unanimously set in motion, with teaching professionals on the committees.
Unanimously, we note, even given considerable disagreement over education policy on that board.
The Louisiana Constitution vests education policy in both the Legislature and the BESE members, most of them elected but three appointed by the governor. Now, to appease the anti-Common Core agitation, the House and Senate education committees and the new governor taking office next year will have more of a role, able to block adoption of Core 2.0 next spring.
Realistically, this is not much in terms of concessions. Under the compromise, if it passes intact through the legislative session, the political players could only block the new standards; if that is done, the existing Common Core standards continue.
Is this all? The grand bargain just kicks the issue into the political arena this fall and next spring. Where it would have ended up anyhow.