In yet another bid to upend the Common Core State Standards and aligned tests in Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced a plan on March 18 to push legislation that would repeal the common core, require schools to use previous content standards until a new set of standards are developed, and require the legislature to ultimately approve those new standards.
It’s the latest plan from Jindal to get rid of the common core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) exams in the Pelican State.
In addition, Jindal’s legislation would not be routed through education committees in the legislature, a move that could be designed to increase the chance that the proposal passes. In the last two legislative sessions, Louisiana legislators have rejected bills to repeal the common core.
The current standards-adoption process, Jindal said at a press conference where he was joined by several anti-common-core lawmakers, “allows [the state school board] to circumvent the public process.”
Jindal’s plan would require the state to switch back to content standards it used in the 2004-05 school year while new standards are developed. The state would also switch back to the tests it used before PARCC, the Louisiana Educational Asssessment Program exams. In addition, local school board members would get to vote on draft standards to replace the common core, along with members of the state board. Final approval of the new standards would hinge on majority votes in both chambers of the state legislatures.
In addition, his plan would outlaw appropriating state funds for contracts and memoranda of understanding between state education officials and “any third-party nongovernmental entity that has competing authority over education in Louisiana.” Remember that back in 2010, Jindal himself signed a memorandum of understanding that signaled the beginning of the state’s involvement with the consortium developing the PARCC exam. (At one time, Jindal also supported the common core.)
Soon after the announcement, Jindal sent out a tweet highlighting an anti-common-core push by America Next, his conservative policy shop that has served as a platform for the governor’s national political positions:
— Gov. Bobby Jindal (@BobbyJindal) March 18, 2015
Jindal is widely seen as having interest in a 2016 presidential campaign.
Jindal’s plan bears some key similarities to Oklahoma’s repeal of the common core last year. In the Sooner State, lawmakers required the state to switch to the content standards it used before the common core, and also delegated final power to approve new standards to the legislature.
In response to Jindal’s plan, state Superintendent John White said that the plan was purely a political ploy supported only by “extreme outliers,” in contrast to the review of the common core approved by the state school board on March 6. (That review moved up the previously scheduled review of the standards by one year, among other things.) He also highlighted the impact that reverting to prior state standards, and then switching again to new standards approved by the legislature, would have on schools.
“This would mean that educators have to shift twice,” White said.
White noted that 99 percent of eligible students have taken the PARCC exam so far in this year’s testing window. I asked him if he thought that high rate of participation was spurring Jindal to propose his latest anti-common-core push, and he said, referring to the 99-percent figure, “The extreme outliers must feel like the reasonable middle ground is getting larger.”
Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chas Roemer was more blunt. “This plan laid out by the governor today is a disgrace and it is a political one,” Roemer said, adding that he was surprised the governor held his news conference in Louisiana, a reference to the governor’s potential presidential campaign.
Photo credit for Bobby Jindal: Molly Riley/AP; Photo credit for John White: Louisiana state Superintendent of Education John White speaks to the media after meeting with Gov. Bobby Jindal about public school testing,in July, 2014, in Baton Rouge, La. (Melinda Deslatte/AP-File)
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.