Now this has got to sting at the Governor’s Mansion: “If not for Bobby Jindal, we wouldn’t have Common Core at all.”
That jibe came from state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, a Democrat running in the fall election to replace Jindal. And it stings because of the politics of the governor’s flip-flop on the issue last year.
The governor was an original backer of the new academic standards called Common Core. They were developed by a group of states, and another committee of state leaders developed the tests that are in the process of being administered to some 300,000 Louisiana schoolchildren in grades three through eight.
Jindal was a backer of the Core standards and supported the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members who pushed them; the former state superintendent, a Republican, worked as volunteer chairman on the national board developing the test.
The test that now the governor wants to throw out? Yep, that one.
Clearly, the new year is bringing new histrionics about Common Core, but we believe that the state — and the nation, in the majority of states adopting the standards — deserve a higher bar for student achievement. That Jindal and U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., have vaulted from support of Common Core to opposition says more about politics than about the validity of the standards. The Core standards and the tests measuring student progress on them have been in the process of development for years; it is only lately that the politics of Common Core have been difficult for officeholders.
Who include, by the way, Edwards, who called for “real solutions … not more disruption.” The state has made concessions, allowing pencil-and-paper tests out of concern that not all districts are ready for computerized testing.
Whatever shots that the politicos take at Common Core and at each other, the constitutional authority lies with the BESE members. The governor’s pointless “executive orders” on test procurement are little more than suggestions to BESE, which has reason to be thoroughly disillusioned with the governor over the past year.
Where real trouble could erupt is in the Legislature, opening April 13.
If there is trouble for Common Core, it would be in an odd coalition of the governor, teacher unions and Democratic members led by Edwards, dedicated to the policy of just saying no to the standards — regardless of how the testing goes in classrooms this spring.
If, for whatever reasons, teachers and superintendents aren’t happy, then perhaps there’s a legitimate debate to be had on what Edwards calls for, “real solutions.” For the alternative to Common Core now is just as Edwards said: more disruption.