After much talk, a plan for students to rebel against Common Core-based standardized tests appears to have fizzled. Only one percent of those who were supposed to take the tests chose not to.
Gov. Bobby Jindal tried to abet the revolt by suggesting the state provide some kind of alternative for those who bolted from Core-aligned testing, but he was shot down on that.
Meanwhile, Jindal says he wants to replace Common Core with some other standards, maybe even reverting to those the state adopted in the previous decade.
“We will not accept this one-size-fits-all approach to our children’s education,” Jindal said.
You see the problem there, right? The governor doesn’t want a “one-size-fits-all approach,” but he does want to keep standardized testing.
Critics of standardized tests — critics who’ve been saying this long before Common Core was even just a twinkle in Jeb Bush’s eyes — have complained that the problem with any standardized test is that very one-size-for-everybody approach. It’s unfair to students, they’ve said, and it hampers teachers who feel pressured to “teach to the test” all school year.
Meanwhile, in New Orleans, the six remaining members of the Orleans Parish School Board are deadlocked over a replacement for the seventh. They’ve voted 3-3 each time they try to come up with someone to fill the seat vacated by Ira Thomas, who quit March 6 after being accused by federal prosecutors of taking $5,000 to help a janitorial contractor seeking work from the board.
The board has an incentive for putting aside its divisions on this issue — if they don’t do anything by the end of the month, Jindal gets to name the replacement. That’s the same Jindal who would be happy to see all of the New Orleans charter schools now under the control of the Recovery School District remain with RSD instead of returning to the locally elected board.
But is fear of Jindal enough to get the board’s two factions to come together and find a replacement before the governor plays his hand?
As far as charter schools go, they’ve been widely hailed as the future of public education in the United States. Alabama just became the latest state to allow charter schools. The New Orleans system, where most public schools are charters, is often held up to other jurisdictions as a shining example.
But RSD’s charter-solution-fits-all approach in New Orleans is not problem-free. Last year, the operator that ran John McDonogh High School — which was doing poorly in state assessments — relinquished its charter. Now there’s a legal fight over whether the Orleans Parish School Board or RSD gets to choose the next operator.
Miller-McCoy Academy, another charter school not distinguishing itself in the state assessments, will close this spring. And Lagniappe Academies recently lost its charter after the state issued a blistering report on the school’s treatment of special-needs students.
This is an election year. The governor’s office, the state Legislature and other positions are up for grabs in the fall. Common Core and education in general will definitely be in the mix of issues.
And we have the Legislature — some of whose members are lame ducks — convening in a few weeks. Any legislator seeking re-election, or election to another office, may try to make hay on the schools issue.
It’s easy to laugh off the confusion and chaos on the education front as just another case of “Louisiana Exceptionalism”; our public figures are exceptional at attracting attention for all the wrong reasons.
But it stops being funny when you realize that the decisions they make affect the future of Louisiana’s children.
Dennis Persica’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.