While they may not be household names, it’s becoming a very long roll call of significant players in our state who are now at odds with Gov. Bobby Jindal over education policy.
The governor wants to shelve the new and higher academic standards for public schools. The policymakers who pushed for the Common Core State Standards are not only those who get in the headlines, such as Education Superintendent John White or Chas Roemer, Baton Rouge’s elected member and president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
A former BESE member, Leslie Jacobs, outlined for the Educate Now! group in New Orleans the dangers of withdrawing from Common Core tests, as the governor seeks to do by attacking the contracts with the state’s long-time test-providing company. Jacobs was among the architects of the state’s long-established accountability programs in education.
In three other states that have withdrawn from Common Core, the legislatures voted to do so; no other governor has tried to go it alone, as Jindal has. Further, the governor seeks to use his power over contracts to get around the troublesome fact that few agree with his policy.
The Division of Administration has the legal power to review contracts but that “is supposed to be an administrative function to make certain the various departments of state government follow state procurement laws, budget parameters and other legal requirements,” Jacobs wrote. “The governor is using DOA as a weapon to override the constitutionally established legislative branch and the state board of education.”
If Jacobs is one name that commands respect in education circles, another is Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner of the Board of Regents. She has been a leader in improving teacher education programs. That work has been recognized by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which recently ranked three Louisiana universities — LSU, Northwestern State in Natchitoches and Southeastern in Hammond — as among the top in the nation in various categories of teacher preparation.
So her memo to deans of schools of education and others is significant: Louisiana’s Common Core standards are still the basis for teacher education in the state, and should continue to be taught to aspiring teachers.
“Failure to do so can result in universities losing BESE approval of graduates becoming certified to teach in Louisiana,” her memo said.
Backed by the chairman of the Board of Regents, Bubba Rasberry of Shreveport, who also is widely known and respected in education circles, the memo shows how isolated from the mainstream is Jindal’s bid to drop the Common Core standards.
The governor ought to think twice. Or rather three times, because he was for the Common Core before he lately turned against it.