Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was a supporter of the Common Core standards when they were implemented in Louisiana, but now has come out against the benchmarks leaving the state with no active contract to buy standardized tests for the coming school year, which begins in August, says Adriane Quinlan, writing for The Times-Picayune.
What the governor wants are “Louisiana standards and a Louisiana test”. However, Louisiana’s two top education officials are not in agreement with the governor.
State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer and State Education Superintendent John White said that the state’s 714,000 students will continue lessons aligned with the national academic standards and with the tests with which they are associated.
“The laws don’t support his position,” Roemer said. “The laws support our position.”
White and Roemer call this stance by the governor “symbolic” and suggest that these actions might be a result of a possible presidential run for Jindal. They reminded the public that Jindal was a part of the National Governors Association and White was a part of the Council of Chief State School Officers, both of which were part of the creation of the math and English standards known as the Common Core.
The tests for evaluating students who had studied the Common Core was developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium. (PARCC)
In the 2013 – 2014 school year, Louisiana’s public and parochial schools began teaching these standards. This coming school year was supposed to be the year when third through eighth grade students would take the tests aligned with Common Core.
The loophole that the governor wants to use to ditchCommon 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 said he remains committed to improving education, just with different tools. “We can have rigor. We can have high standards in Louisiana,” he said. “We can do it without the federal overreach.”
According to the Associated Press, Jindal had more to say.
“Common Core’s become a one-size-fits-all model that simply doesn’t make sense for our state,” Jindal said at a news conference.
When White said his department could buy test questions through an existing contract with an outside vendor, that vendor’s contract was temporarily suspended by Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols. White and Roemer said they were going to investigate whether or not Nichols had the authority to “pull the plug”.
“Now that we understand the federal overreach involved, we need to slow down and make the right decision,” Jindal said.
Joel Gehrke, writing for the National Review Online, observes that the governor’s decision comes as Republican primary activists around the country, most recently in Oklahoma, have mobilized conservative voters against the standards.