23rd June 2014 · 0 Comments
Louisiana students deserve the same opportunities as children across the United States, and for too long we have let our education standards lag behind. That is why Governor Jindal’s attempts to abandon Common Core are all the more reprehensible.
The public will remember that, before he opposed it, Gov. Jindal supported Common Core in 2010 and signed it into law with Act 275 in 2012. Louisiana joined with 43 other states in setting common expectations in English language arts and mathematics. Unfortunately, as the governor’s political ambitions increased, he began catering to extremists who oppose the standards.
The governor is irresponsibly perpetuating a campaign of misinformation surrounding Common Core, including the myth that the federal government would be taking over our schools. The facts are that Common Core is a state-led effort, and the federal government does not govern it. The Louisiana Department of Education, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), and local school districts will continue to drive the implementation of Common Core.
In order to keep moving forward, a group of pragmatic Democrats and Republicans joined with me to author HB 953. The bill passed with more than two-thirds of the legislature supporting it, but the governor vetoed it on Friday. HB 953 was a compromise that would have allowed Louisiana to continue implementing the Common Core expectations and tests, while giving students and teachers two extra years to prepare before accountability measures went into effect.
As a state that consistently ranks 48th or 49th in education, we took action to ensure that Louisiana’s students would be better prepared to compete nationally. There is no doubt that Gov. Jindal’s plan would set us back, and our children would be the ones to suffer most. Districts, schools, teachers, and students have been working to meet the new standards for several years, and the governor is pulling the rug out from under them just weeks before classes are scheduled to begin. It is unethical to denigrate their immense efforts at this point in the implementation process.
Governor Jindal’s plan to abandon Common Core is a clear example of executive overreach. And while I was disappointed to hear his announcement, I take solace in the fact that the law is on our side. It empowers BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education to set standards and mandates that “[b]eginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments shall be based on nationally recognized content standards.”
I commend Superintendent White and the Louisiana Department of Education and Chas Roemer and BESE for maintaining their commitment to Common Core and improving public education in our state.
– Walter J. Leger, III.
State Representative, District 91
This article originally published in the June 23, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.