Published Online: July 1, 2014

BESE holds special meeting on Common Core testing

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is holding a special meeting Tuesday to consider responses to Gov. Bobby Jindal's efforts to derail the Common Core education standards in public schools.

The Republican governor has suspended a state contract to keep the education department from buying testing material for third-graders through eighth-graders that is tied to Common Core. Jindal says the department didn't follow state procurement law in choosing the standardized test it would use.

BESE President Chas Roemer and Education Superintendent John White say the governor has overstepped his legal authority. They say they intend to push forward with the multi-state education standards in Louisiana's schools.

The education board meets midday Tuesday to discuss what happens next, including whether to file a lawsuit against Jindal over who has the authority to determine the standardized tests used in Louisiana's schools.

Three BESE members who oppose Common Core — Lottie Beebe, Carolyn Hill and Jane Smith — say the 11-member education board should not be discussing possible litigation. They say the board should be talking about what test to use now that Jindal has blocked the Common Core-tied test.

Students return to school in about six weeks.

The Common Core standards were developed by states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers, and more than 40 states have adopted the grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in math and English.

Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. But criticism has grown as President Barack Obama's administration encouraged states to use the standards.

Jindal, a one-time supporter of the standards, now says the federal government is trying to use Common Core to control local curriculum and educational systems. Roemer says Jindal has reversed course as a way to try to curry favor with conservatives who could help bolster the governor's likely 2016 presidential bid.

Jindal can't directly shut down use of the multi-state standards in classrooms, and lawmakers rejected attempts earlier this year to replace Common Core with Louisiana-specific education standards.

White and Roemer point to a 2012 law that spells out Louisiana must use nationally recognized content standards, and they say the authority for setting standards rests with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. A majority of BESE's members support Common Core and recently took votes reaffirming the commitment.


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