Battle over Common Core intensifies between Jindal, LA education leaders

Governor Bobby Jindal announced plans to remove Common Core testing standards from Louisiana schools Wednesday.

Jindal raised concerns over whether competitive bid laws were followed and expressed a feeling that the testing standards are an example of overreaching Federal authority.

"The Federal government would like to assert control of our educational system and rush implementation of a one-size fits all set of standards that raises a lot of serious concerns," Jindal said.

However, state education leaders fired back saying they will use Common Core related testing for students in grades three through eight for the upcoming school year.

State Education Superintendent John White said it's the continuation of a long-term plan as called for by state law.

"These are not [LA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education] rules. These are not [LA Department of Education] initiatives. These are in the state's laws," White said. "State law is what mandates that these things happen and I want to be very clear about that, that the governor mentioned today how important it is to follow state law."

Political analyst Mike Sherman said the issue has divided people along unusual lines.

"Politics sure make for strange bedfellows. How often do you see the Tea Party align with teachers' unions? What's really interesting about this debate is if Common Core goes away, what will replace it here in Louisiana? Will it be a state-specific test as the governor has called for," Sherman said. "This is going to be a battle we'll see for weeks and months to come between BESE and the governor's office."

But former BESE member Leslie Jacobs, who now heads up Educate Now, an education reform non-profit, said the Common Core plan seems poised to move forward in Louisiana.

"I'm not clear how the governor stops it because it is within law. It is within BESE's constitutional authority," Jacobs said. "This issue had tons of debate, tons of bills. It's been fully vetted by an elected legislative body, by an elected state board of education and those two bodies said 'we're staying with the Common Core and PARCC' and I'm just not clear how the governor gets to override these other two elected bodies. It will be interesting if he decides to take it to court."

Three states that once adopted Common Core standards have reversed course. However, Jacobs points out those states had legislative support for the moves.

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