Gov. Bobby Jindal has had more luck lately in state courts, with legal challenges to some of his key education bills being turned back more often than not. But in joining with a group of legislators to attack the Common Core education standards for state schools, Jindal missed the bus.
The state Department of Education and the state school board argued that the challenge to adoption of the new standards came too late. Under the law, District Judge Tim Kelley agreed, the plaintiffs had two years from the adoption of standards in 2010 to challenge the procedures for adopting them, and that deadline passed well before the lawsuit was filed. In fact, depending on how you define the exact dates, it may be that Jindal was still for Common Core when the deadline passed.
Earlier last year, many of the same legislators had failed to pass legislation dumping the Common Core standards, so the legal attack on the procedure was a way to challenge Common Core, despite the support it demonstrated in the democratic process.
If these legal maneuverings do not touch on the merits of Common Core standards, what they suggest is that the mission of those seeking to undermine them has moved past a debate on the merits.
What began as an utterly nonpartisan coalition of the states seeking higher academic standards has become politicized, particularly among Republican-leaning voters. This is ironic, considering that GOP officials in Louisiana and elsewhere pushed new standards, backed by the business community but developed by education professionals.
Common Core has formally been in public school classrooms since August, but teacher training and preparations for the new standards have been long in progress. Nearly 320,000 students in grades three through eight were tested on the standards in March. The new classroom guidelines apply to reading, writing and math.
Are these standards perfect? Probably not, although there is a reasonable process for adjusting and tweaking them over time. What makes no sense is to throw out literally years of work in classrooms because of political agitation based on false premises, such as Jindal’s preposterous argument that the federal government is in a conspiracy to take over local schools via Common Core.
We commend the majority of members of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Education Superintendent John White for their commitment to an orderly approach toward setting educational standards whatever the shifting political winds.
Louisiana is not nearly where we need to be in public education, but there has been measurable progress in schools. A late date scuttled the legislators’ lawsuit, but in the real world, we are far past the date at which it is practical or desirable to develop alternatives to Common Core.