Louisiana School Board Seeks Lawyers for Common Core Battle

The battle over Common Core standards and tests in the state of Louisiana escalated again as the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved a resolution to seek legal counsel in an attempt to negotiate a peace with Governor Bobby Jindal.

The board voted 6-3 to ‘seek outside lawyers for guidance‘, although it will still need approval from the state attorney general’s office to hire a law firm, according to an article by Associated Press reporter Melissa Deslatte.

The move comes after Jindal upped the ante on his staunch opposition to Common Core testing by blocking the state’s ability to purchase testing materials linked to the standards, as reported by Education News on June 23.

The loophole that the governor wants to use to ditch Common Core is that the tests that are to be given do not comply with the state law that calls for a competitive bid process.

If there were a bidding situation involved in choosing a test, the governor said that it would not be the PARCC test, since it is more expensive than the other tests out there. The governor, it seems, is of the opinion that getting rid of the test, would assist him in getting rid of the Common Core. Jindal is doing everything in his power to thwart the use of the Common Core standards, but his executive authority is limited.

Jindal was a staunch backer of Common Core dating as far back as 2008, during his first term as governor of Louisiana. Beginning in May of 2014, however, he began making overtures to the point of removing the state from Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (PARCC), citing that the federal government is too big a player in states’ education processes, according to a May 8 article from Education News.

[Jindal's supporters] claim that only the states should tackle their educational systems. Louisiana opponents say that since other states’ opinions went into the formulation of the Common Core system and PARCC test that it does not necessarily reflect Louisiana’s own values.

While the BESE mulls legal action, its education superintendent, John White, is attempting to negotiate an agreement with Jindal over which standardized tests the school will use for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. White is required to file a report to the board on his attempts no later than July 18.

Three of the nine BESE board members – Lottie Beebe, Carolynn Hill and Jane Smith -  oppose the Common Core standards along with Jindal. All three voted against the bill to seek out legal advice.

Smith, who was appointed to the board by Jindal, suggested the state continue using its own standardized tests from last year until a resolution can be found.

“It’s common sense to use what we used last year so we can start this school year in a calm manner,” said Smith.