Common Core: A Serious Problem for Governors in 2016

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Common Core has been a thorn in Jeb Bush’s presidential campapign
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

It has taken a while for the mainstream media to focus on the effect Common Core has had on Republican presidential campaigns. But Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard, in discussing the unexpected weakness and in some cases collapse of candidates who were or are governors, has drawn the connection between a governor’s support of Common Core and his political fortunes.

As Barnes notes, governors can present themselves as more experienced and reliable since they’ve had to make decisions and run things, not just talk about what they would do if given an executive position. But when they act against the wishes of their states’ citizens on something as critical as education, those citizens sound the alarm about the true nature of this Man Who Would Be President. And with the pro-Constitution, anti-Common Core movement connected by such national networks as TAE, there’s nowhere for the offending governor to hide.

The worst miscreant on the Common Core front, of course, is former Gov. Jeb Bush. Anyone who has attended anti-Common Core rallies in critical electoral states such as Ohio knew from the outset that Bush had no chance with the base (he could have saved a lot of time and money if he had consulted us before launching his campaign). Bush has been Mr. Common Core from the beginning, and nothing he could do or say would change that.

And speaking of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich has achieved the distinction of alienating his constituents on Common Core more than any other candidate. Ohioans not only reject his support of Common Core, they quite properly resent his sneering disdain for their concerns. You may notice the absence of a groundswell for Kasich (even, or perhaps especially, in Ohio).

Then there are the governors such as Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie who initially embraced Common Core but tried to walk back their support. For years Jindal gave the impression that he wasn’t really focused on education issues, and he may truly have seen the light and tried to undo the damage (even with a federal lawsuit), but it was hard for him to erase the lingering distrust of Louisiana parents who tried so hard to get his attention earlier. Christie, on the other hand, has focused less on the unconstitutionality and philosophical deficiencies of Common Core and more on problematic “implementation.” Suggesting that an unconstitutional monstrosity would be fine if it were properly implemented has greatly diminished Christie’s appeal to the Republican base.

Scott Walker is in a category by himself. Having blown both hot and cold on the issue, Walker finally settled into an embrace of “state control” over standards and said the right things against Common Core.  But the anti-Common Core activists in Wisconsin recognized – and repeatedly warned the national networks – that Walker not only was not helping rid the state of Common Core, but he or his people were working behind the scenes to defeat attempts to replace the national standards with superior state standards. The implosion of the Walker campaign began – coincidentally? – about the time these warnings were circulated.

The only governor whose campaign crumbled despite his true anti-Common Core bona fides was Rick Perry. But a compelling argument can be made that Perry’s fall was precipitated more by lingering memories of his campaign stumbles from four years ago than by any of his current positions.

The lesson here is that candidates act at their peril when they ignore parents’ concerns about their children. Add those concerns to worries about threats to the rule of law and to our constitutional structure, and you have a potent force that can sink – and have sunk – political fortunes.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul Receive an A – on Common Core Report Card

rand-paul-education-policy

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, along with Ted Cruz, received an A-.

ThePulse2016, American Principles in Action, and Cornerstone Policy Research released  a Common Core score card on all of the major Republican candidates minus former New York Governor George Pataki and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  Leaders are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) received an A-, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal received a B+.  On the other end of the spectrum former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich received an F.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie receive a D+.  Surprisingly, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio received a C.

Here are the candidates’ grades:

A- … Ted Cruz
A- … Rand Paul
B+… Bobby Jindal
B  … Lindsey Graham
B  … Rick Perry
B  … Rick Santorum
B- … Ben Carson
B- … Donald Trump
C+… Carly Fiorina
C  … Mike Huckabee
C  … Marco Rubio
D+… Chris Christie
D+… Scott Walker
F  … Jeb Bush
F  … John Kasich

Full disclosure: I was a contributor for the report that accompanies the report card, but I did not determine the final grade.

The criteria used was:

  1. Whether the candidate recognizes the full scope of the Common Core issue and has advocated for, or taken, action that would roll back the Common Core education standards.
  2. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting, or taken steps to protect, state and local decision-making in the area of education, e.g., offered a plan to give states enforceable protection against USED overreach, to opt out of the USED, unwind USED as a whole, etc.
  3. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting child and family privacy, for example by opposing improper gathering and use of data including student medical information and any information that would reflect a student’s psychological characteristics or behaviors.

They could have included more criteria and noted in the scorecard report, “Due to time constraints, we did not include categories that could rightly be included in a Common Core scorecard. Those include initiatives that expand government-funded early childcare and the alignment of education to a national workforce system. Those initiatives will require increased data collection. The latter one will also entail the continuation of federal efforts to shape state “workforce investment” efforts that are an affront to state sovereignty and capitalism and that treat children and adults as human capital–as a means to an end.”

They also explain the grading:

  • A  Champions the issue (e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue)
  • B  Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it
  • C  Has neither helped nor hurt the cause
  • D  Has an overall negative record on the issue
  • F  Robustly and consistently works against the issue

Below are excerpts of what was said about each candidate in the report:

Jeb Bush – F

Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core Standards in the 2016 field. He has publicly praised David Coleman, one of the two chief architects of the Common Core (who is now chairman of the College Board). He has propagated the false narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high quality.91 He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on “Alice-in- Wonderland logic.

Ben Carson – B-

As a non-office-holder, Carson is pretty much limited to speaking on the issues. He says the right things but has given no indication of a deep understanding of Common Core or the attendant problems.

Chris Christie – D+

We would look for Christie to lead the effort to replace the Common Core in New Jersey with good standards – not just a “review” leading to a rebrand – and to replace PARCC with an assessment aligned to the new standards. His statement, in a thinly veiled reference to Gov. Perry, that at least he tried Common Core is particularly troublesome.116 It indicates that he does not understand how the federal government interferes with state decision- making, does not appreciate the academic deficiencies of the Common Core, and does not understand why parents are upset.

Christie epitomizes “making a big issue into a small issue.” His website does not address Common Core and does not address his view as to the relationship between USED and the states on education. Does he think it is just fine? Does he think the states need structural protections? Does he want to eliminate USED? Perhaps make it bigger? These are campaign issues, and the people want to know.

Ted Cruz – A-

We encourage Sen. Cruz to spell out in greater detail his plans for reigning in the federal government, to talk about the nexus between Common Core’s quality and the perversion of our constitutional structure and to raise the issues with accurate specifics rather than to talk about “repealing” Common Core. Does Cruz have further proposals to safeguard state and local decision-making and protect parental rights? His website does not address the Common Core issues, does not say anything about student and family privacy, and does not address his views as to the relationship between the federal government and the states with regard to education.

Carly Fiorina – C+

Fiorina’s website states, “Government is rigged in favor of powerful interests. The only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is running it.” She would do well to address these issues more often and in more detail -especially given that the Common Core is being driven by the “powerful interests” that claim to serve the interests of the economy and business. Fiorina would do well to discuss the issue in more depth, to raise the qualitative problems, and to state whether she has any proposals to safeguard state decision-making.

Lindsey Graham – B

Graham seems to understand the issues with Common Core today, but it is unfortunate this opposition did not come sooner. He missed an early opportunity to strike at the Common Core in 2013 by not co-signing a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, end the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and prevent the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

Mike Huckabee – C

Gov. Mike Huckabee has a checkered past on the issue of the Common Core. Once an ardent supporter of the system, he now claims that the original “governor-controlled states’ initiative” eventually “morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.” However, as recently as 2013, Mike Huckabee told the Council of Chief State School Officers to “[r]ebrand [Common Core], refocus it, but don’t retreat.”

As the campaign approached, Huckabee began to be more consistent in his opposition (although he was still giving a nod to the supposedly pure origins of the Common Core).

Bobby Jindal – B+

Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core. But in 2014 he come out swinging against it, although he occasionally lapses into a narrative that it was the federal involvement that made it bad. He supported legislation to rid his state of Common Core. He has also sued USED in federal court on the grounds that the Department’s Race to the Top programs was coercive, violates federal law, and is contrary to the Constitution. Jindal stumbled out of the gate on Common Core, but he has righted himself and has admirably pushed back against the federal overreach.

John Kasich – F

Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core. His only response to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of them.

Rand Paul – A-

Sen. Rand Paul supported Senator Grassley’s effort to defund the Common Core in 2013 and 2014. He co-signed a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice- chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to be included prohibiting the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, ending the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core. Sens. Paul and Cruz are the only senatorial candidates for president who co-signed Grassley’s letter.

Paul has paid more attention to the Common Core issue than most other candidates and has spoken forcefully against it.

Rick Perry – B

Gov. Rick Perry is one of the few candidates, declared or prospective, who has opposed the Common Core from the outset. As Governor, Rick Perry signed HB 462, which effectively banned the Common Core from being adopted in Texas…

…With regard to privacy, in 2013 Perry signed HB 2103, which created a data-sharing agency for educational data governed by an appointed board rather than the state educational agency. It appears that the data can only be shared within the state- with the exception of inter-state sharing with other state departments of education. Among other problems, it allows unfettered data-sharing among agencies designated as “cooperating agencies” –the Texas Education Agency, the state higher-ed authority, and the Texas Workforce Commission. It allows any researcher (no parameters on who is a legitimate researcher) to get data if he uses “secure methods” and agrees to comply with the ineffective federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It requires each participating state agency to make data available for the preceding 20 years, and allows data-sharing agreements with “local agencies or organizations” that provide education services if “useful to the conduct of research.”

Marco Rubio – C

Sen. Marco Rubio has spoken strongly against Common Core and wrote a letter to Secretary Duncan in 2011 questioning the legality of using federal No Child Left Behind waivers to drive policy changes, like the adoption of Common Core, in the states…

…Rubio’s official website does not specifically address the issue of Common Core. However, it does states that in order to prepare people to “seize their opportunities in the new economy,” high schools should graduate more students “ready to work.” It is hard to parse from this general statement what the education policies would look like under a Rubio Administration. What does Rubio believe would validate a student as “work ready”? Would it be the further alignment of our K-12 education system to the projected demands of specific sectors of the economy to train workers for favored big-businesses, which would mean more of the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed Common Core? Or, does it mean aligning education to the demands of parents and the local community as a whole, which would mean more local control? It would behoove Senator Rubio to answer these questions and to discuss the qualitative aspects of the Common Core and whether he believes the federal involvement helped, or hurt, the quality of the standards.

Rick Santorum – B

Santorum’s website addresses the problem of Common Core in terms of both federal overreach and the substance of the standards. While many other candidates do the former, few address the latter…

…Although Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind when it passed the Senate in 2001, he has since described that vote as “a mistake.” We give a candidate credit for truly admitting a mistake.

Donald Trump – B-

Trump has struck a chord with the Republican base, something many would have thought unlikely a year ago. Citizens view him as having the courage and will to stand and fight, something that many GOP candidates have seemed to lack in years past. As the primary cycle wears on, the base will want to hear more detail from Trump as well as other candidates. The candidate who does this will engender the gratitude of parents and other citizens. Trump would do well to blaze the trail on this.

Scott Walker – D+

Until recently, Governor Walker’s rhetoric on Common Core has been good. He admits that, when he ran in 2010, it wasn’t on his radar and that’s certainly understandable given how the standards were pushed into the states. He rightly gives credit to the state’s citizens for making it an issue, something that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to activists who have been ridiculed as irrational by elitists in both parties…

Sometimes legislation gets watered down despite the intrepid efforts of its proponents. At other times, a nominal proponent gives it lip service but fails to fight and, thereby, actually signals that he will not raise an objection if the legislation is defeated or watered down. On the Common Core, Walker is in the latter category…

You can read the entire report below.

House Deal Would Change Louisiana Common Core Review

louisiana-state-flag-2There are plans underway to review the Common Core State Standards in Louisiana.  Under a deal reached with a bill, HB 373, sponsored by State Representative Brett Geymann (R-Lake Charles) there would be additional steps added to the process including legislative and Gubernatorial oversight.

The Advocate reports:

Under current plans, four committees of roughly 100 educators and others are reviewing Common Core in classrooms now for possible changes.

Recommendations are supposed to go to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, without formal legislative input.

Geymann’s bill would change the review of Common Core in three ways.

It would:

Require BESE to hold public hearings this year in all six congressional districts to allow citizens a voice in the benchmarks that Geymann and other critics say they were unfairly denied.

Allow the state House and Senate education committees to review changes recommended by BESE by March 4, 2016, and take all-or-nothing votes on the modifications.

Permit future governors veto authority on the changes, also all or nothing.

The House Education committee passed the bill and it will face a vote in the full house next week.  Typically review and replace bills are met with a tepid response by Common Core opponents, but with the current legislative make-up and being unable to pass repeal bills out of committee this appears to be the best bill Common Core opposition can hope for this session.

Geymann told the Advocate that the bill gives the Common Core some of what they were asking for.

Geymann and others contend the plan is part of a three-bill package that answers many of the demands of Common Core opponents.

“It gives us an opportunity for the public to be engaged,” the lawmaker said in an interview outside the committee room, moments before the debate began.

“There is committee oversight,” Geymann said. “There is governor veto potentially of the standards. … It is all the things we have been asking for.

“There are three hurdles that it has to go through. There is about as much transparency as you could ask for.”

The Common Core bill compromise which includes the unanimous passage of HB 373 out of the House Education Committee is a victory.  It is an important  step in a path that leads to the removal of Common Core from Louisiana by allowing our state to once again have control of its own standards.  One of the most important steps in that path will occur when Governor Jindal signs HB 373 into law,” Anna Arthurs, an activist with Louisiana Against Common Core, told Truth in American Education.

Fortunately, we have a governor strongly opposed to Common Core and our state not be in the same situation as New Hampshire which saw its governor veto their bill to remove Common Core.  Regaining control of our standards and having an opportunity to develop new ones in a transparent process with legislative approval should allow our state to once again have excellent standards and not just a rebrand of the developmentally inappropriate Common Core State Standards,” Arthurs added.

The Advocate reports that the Governor’s office has concerns about the deal.

While the veto would apply to future governors, Jindal is concerned that a future chief executive could leave Common Core intact merely by vetoing changes recommended during the review process.

“Secondly, there is concern about the commission set up by BESE to come up with new Louisiana standards because some believe it is filled with Common Core supporters,” Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s chief of staff, said in a prepared statement.

Jindal, a former Common Core backer turned opponent, leaves office in January, well ahead of the time when he could review any suggested changes.

Even if this bill passes whether or not Louisiana ends up with a rebrand or significantly different standards will still remain to be seen.

Misinforming The Public to Make a Case for the Rebrand

Sara Wood is a mom and activist in Louisiana.  She responded to a recent article written by Michael Henderson and Martin West for the Brookings Institute in the form of an open letter.

Misinforming The Public to Make a Case for the Rebrand

By Sara Wood

Mr. Henderson and Mr. West,
I apologize right from the start but your article is offensive to informed parents, like myself, who have done extensive research on this Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Partnership and Public Opinion on Common Core“from Brookings Institute).  I am offended, because instead of using your talents to investigate that which has parents actively engaged like never before to fight this initiative, you insinuate that the real issue is that citizens are misinformed and we can be tricked by merely playing semantics and rebranding the common set of standards in each state, in LA.  REALLY?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  That is on the same level as Lane Grigsby using his organization to give legislators unicorns as a parody to attack moms as individuals who live in fantasy land. I mean enough is enough.  I am a mother fighting for what is best for my children and what they experienced is actually horrible and damaging and I have a right to have my concerns addressed and not told that I am misinformed when obviously I can read and any Common Core promoters cannot, have not or will not, but hey no large numbers with access to mass communication caring about that reality.  There are layers upon layers of concerning issues with this entire initiative and this is where you want to land.  Well I am sorry but you have made a mistake.  
You should have done a better job of researching the concerns and the validity of this initiative, if you even really care.   There are ways to use words and you used them in a biased fashion as is so common and cowardly these days, to support Common Core.  It is not so much the skewed manner in which the survey question attached some portion of accountability language enticing the adults to agree regardless or in spite of the use of “Common Core” or common standards across states, but it is your annotations in parentheses that are just snippets of misinformation.  I am sure the promoters of Common Core are thankful for your propaganda piece  that makes the case for a mere rebrand of the standards.  However you seem misinformed and the comments in this article prove it.  A common set of standards that use a national experiment to create not only a floor for the nation but through the binding agreements, grants and waivers, a ceiling for all children may be a good thing if you are looking to model Communist China, but it is counter to our federalist system of government, which should mean something to you, and it is scary that you or any of its promoters fail to see the dangerous path upon which this will take us toward centralized education beyond any ability to be constrained or controlled locally and that concern is only one out many.  
 
Do you understand the difference between reading something on paper (theory) and then its effect as it plays out in reality (practice)?  Your assertions are supported theoretically but not in practice.  How long you remain blind to the reality which may require thinking beyond the four corners of the documents that you may or may not have read, is up to you.  Please take the time to read this and feel free to ask any questions.
 
REASONS LA CITIZENS ARE AGAINST CCSSI, BY A CITIZEN AND PARENT IN THIS FIGHT. 
 
As parents and concerned citizens, we urged the Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to pass legislation to protect state sovereignty and parental rights as to education by prohibiting the ceding/abdication of discretion/control to any outside influence; to immediately stop the Common Core State Standard Initiative (CCSSI) in Louisiana, including the Common Core Standards, PARCC, and dismantling and purging of the statewide longitudinal database and to remove all school boards from any and all obligation from the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and PARCC testing.
 
45 states adopted the Common Core Standards, effectively resulting in national standards; and
 
For the 45 states that adopted the Common Core Standards there are only two consortiums for the assessments of those standards,effectively resulting in national assessments; and
 
The entire Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) reflects a strategy to conform American students to a “one size fits all” COMMON standard for education with “two size fits all” COMMON assessments of those standards, tied to COMMON teacher accountability based on individual student performance scores that will naturally evolve toward a COMMON curriculum for all students, contrary to deeply held American principles and in violation of three federal laws.
 
Louisiana applied for the Race To The Top federal grant in January 2010, May 2010 and November 2011; a grant that gave priority in competition among states to adopt a “common set of K-12 standards” defined as standards “that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium,” to participate “in a consortium of States that includes a significant number of States” and that were internationally benchmarked.” (Federal Register, Volume 74, No. 221, Wednesday, November 18, 2009, Notices).
 
At the time Louisiana applied for Phase 1 and then Phase 2 of the RTTT federal grant, there were no standards officially in existence that met the RTTT definition.
 
Louisiana received federal funding and waivers, including Phase 3 of RTTT that incentivized the adoption and implementation of the only standards that met the stipulations of the grant applications and those were the Common Core Standards.
 
Louisiana committed to the Common Core Standards through various agreements as shown in support of its Race To The Top applications, before the Common Core Standards for Mathematics and for English, Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical subjects were even written or released leaving no opportunity for the legislative process to take course at all, and denying citizens their right to fully evaluate and vet the standards.  (Common Core Standards Memorandum of Agreement signed by then State Superintendent, Paul Pastorek). LA “adoption” of the CCSS was done without following the Administrative Procedures Act; a law meant to notify and protect the public from state agency action in violation of due process and other rights.
 
 
The citizens of LA duly elected each of the school board members of their respective parishes to represent their interests as to the public education of children attending public schools in and around the state, many voted against RTTT; only 35% are participating LEA’s in the RTTT. 
 
The development of the Common Core Standards was organized by the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices (NGA), two private membership, non-profit trade organizations that assembled a work group that appears to have many names but in fact is a list of only 25 different people, none of which were listed as teachers or curriculum specialists in Elementary and Secondary Education in those work groups, and none of which were listed as Child Psychologists on the feedback group.
 
The Common Core Standards were never field tested after final release and lack empirical data to support claims of “increased rigor,” “higher standards” and “internationally benchmarked” (such claim has been revised and now the website states “internationally informed”).
 
The Common Core Standards were not created by a state led process, subject to any freedom of information acts, public meeting laws, or sunshine laws.  Review and adoption is not the same as creation.
 
The Common Core Standards are copyrighted by the CCSSO and NGA, both of which have received significant amounts of federal funding and received tens of millions of dollars from private third parties for the advocacy and development of the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
 
Louisiana adopted the Common Core Standards directly and is bound by agreement to implement and maintain 100% of the Common Core Standards for each subject, Mathematics and English, Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical subjects.
 
The Common Core Standards bind Louisiana and other states to copyrighted standards with specific limitations on permissible use and prohibition on individual state modifications to these standards with a 15% cap on supplemental standards for those states that received RTTT federal funding, creating a non-differential floor and ceiling for educational standards around the country for all the states that adopted them, including Louisiana.
 
Because the Common Core Standards are copyrighted by the NGA and CCSSO, these two non-governmental and private trade organizations will have the authority to choose, in granting license agreements, any and all curricular curriculum materials claiming to be aligned to the Common Core Standards.
 
In June 2010, Louisiana entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Race To The Top – Comprehensive Assessment Systems Grant with all other member states of the (PARCC) Partnership For Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers by signatures of Governor Bobby Jindal and then, Chief State School Officer for Louisiana, Paul Pastorek and the President of the State Board of Education, Keith Guice.
 
PARCC and the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) received330 million from the RTTT federal grant and entered into Cooperative Agreements with the U.S. Department of Education for the development of common assessments systems that require data collection on each individual student reflecting each student’s growth and achievement toward college and career readiness.
 
In the MOU with PARCC, Louisiana is bound to the requirements to which PARCC is bound under it Cooperative Agreements with the U.S. Department of Education to share personally identifiable information, which agreement recognizes that the US-Ed will have “substantial communication, coordination, and involvement” in the success of this common assessment system and which requires the sharing of “student-level” data.
 
The Common Core State Standards Initiative includes federal funded testing and the collection and sharing of massive amounts of personal student and teacher data without knowledge or consent and the implementation and maintenance of a massive state longitudinal database with cross-connectivity to many government agencies and private entities.
 
The CCSSI effectively removes educational choice and competition since all schools and all districts in Louisiana receiving state or federal funding must use the PARCC assessments based on the Common Core State Standards in order to allow students to transition through the school system.
 
In adopting the Common Core Standards, receiving federal and private funding and entering the PARCC consortium, Louisiana diluted/relinquished its educational freedom to external sources and away from Louisiana, namely parents and teachers, where it belongs.
 
There is an obvious curtailing or disregard of the democratic process, denying citizens the effective right to fully express their grievances with the CCSSI in seeking a legislative remedy for those grievances, and instead to give precedence to non-governmental, other special interests and remote stakeholders over the matter. 
 
The Common Core State Standards were developed and adopted as part of an Initiative comprising a collectivist, educational reform scheme with federal, state and special interest funding and involvement to the exclusion of only five states, together with marketing in a way that fails to disclose the reality of the devastating consequences to our democratic republic and federalist system of American government, when it comes to educational freedom.
 
The CCSSI has a destructive impact on the Ninth and Tenth amendments of the Constitution broadly invading many protected freedoms and state sovereignty.
 
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an affront to American principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution, the Louisiana Constitution and other applicable laws.
 
Because of the reasons herein stated, we citizens called on all Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to stop the implementation completely of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, including the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC Assessments, and to immediately withdraw Louisiana from any all agreements thereto related; and
 
We citizens called on the Legislature but it failed us, with the exception of HB1076 (now Act 837) and so we will call on them this session to pass laws to dismantle and purge any and all statewide longitudinal databases containing any information that was collected in violation of law without knowledge and proper consent of parents and to close any loopholes that would allow access or sharing of said information.
 
We citizens called on the Legislature but it failed us, and so we will call on them this session to pass laws to address the symptoms of this Common Core State Standards Initiative and to prevent any variation of a collectivist educational scheme in any way similar to that comprising the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the future and to prevent the effective cession of any state sovereignty in any way in the future, particularly as to education.
 
As a parent and citizen of this state, I vow not to support any candidate who will not openly oppose the Common Core State Standards Initiative and who fails to take meaningful action to stop it.
 
Sara Wood

Jindal Releases Plan to Repeal and Replace Common Core in Louisiana

louisiana-state-flag-2Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal during my interview with him a couple weeks ago indicated that the was going to renew his efforts to remove Common Core from the state of Louisiana.  Last week he announced he is introducing legislation that would remove Common Core from Louisiana and replace it with high-quality Louisiana standards while ensuring that Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) contracts, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), and Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEAs) do not hand control of Louisiana schools to third-party entities or the federal government.

The plan will also replace the PARCC test, prohibit the collection of biometric information from students, and ensure that BESE, like all state agencies, is subject to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

“This legislation will help us get Common Core out of Louisiana once and for all. We will not accept this one-sized-fits-all approach to our children’s education. The package of legislation will make clear that the federal government or third parties do not have control over Louisiana’s schools, and help ensure that Louisiana parents and teachers create Louisiana standards and curriculum,” Jindal said in a released statement.

Here is additional information provided by the Governor’s office:

First, this plan will immediately remove Common Core from Louisiana, and establish a clear and transparent standards adoption process that includes parents, educators, and school leaders. 

No standards adoption or review process exists in current law, which allows BESE to circumvent the public process, as the Board did when they adopted Common Core as “guidelines,” in 2010 and failed to promulgate the standards through the APA rulemaking process. There is no guarantee that the current BESE standards revision process will include the public or be controlled within Louisiana using Louisiana teachers.

Prior to 2010, BESE worked with groups of Louisiana teachers to review standards by grade level and subject area. This legislation will return to the pre-Common Core standards adoption process—all the while making the process more transparent and easier to understand.  While these new Louisiana standards are being developed, Louisiana schools will use the 2004-2005 Grade Level Expectations and the LEAP and iLEAP will be administered with a replenished questions bank. This will bring clarity for teachers who are on the front lines and educating our children in the classroom.

Under the new adoption process, every elected official involved in education (including the Legislature, school board members and BESE members) will vote on the draft standards and give parents the opportunity to weigh in and express their concerns. Ultimately, the standards will be approved by majority vote of both houses of the Legislature through an up or down vote with recommendations sent to BESE for amendments.

These new standards will also set minimum requirements for English Language Arts by giving equal consideration to elements that have been minimized in the Common Core standards, like classic literature and complete works of literature. The new standards will also set minimum requirements for the use of math algorithms that consistently result in a correct answer and follow traditional formulations to combat Common Core’s use of what Governor Jindal called “fuzzy math,” ensuring students are learning both how to achieve the right answer and the right answer.

Second, this plan will prohibit BESE from entering into contracts, MOUs, CEAs, or agreements that violate Louisiana’s control of education.

This plan prohibits state funds from being spent on state contracts, MOUs, CEAs or agreements between BESE, the State Superintendent of Education, or any employee of the Department of Education and any third-party nongovernmental entity that has competing authority over education in Louisiana, unless expressly provided for in law.

Additionally, no state or public funds may be spent on any contract, MOU, CEA, or waiver agreement entered into by a public education body in Louisiana that constitutes a shift in policy in response to the federal regulation or financial incentives from the federal government, unless expressly provided for in law. All MOUs or agreements in place on the effective date of the act shall be amended to comply with the act within 60 days or be considered null and void.

This legislation will prohibit any state employee, state education board member, legislator, or executive branch staff member from receiving any thing of economic value from a contract with BESE or the Department of Education. BESE members and the State Superintendent will also be prohibited from participating in any organization that requires adherence to or adoption of standards, conditions, or policies as a condition of membership or participation. It will also establish a 2-year “cooling off” period for these same employees.

He also indicated during a press conference that he may bypass the Louisiana House and Senate Education committees in order to get a full vote in the Legislature as reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune as neither committee were responsive to parental protests of the Common Core last session:

“I will tell you, not to give away too many clues, but if you read what we’ve said, and listen to what we’ve said carefully, some of these bills wouldn’t necessarily be in education,” said Jindal at a press conference Wednesday (March 18).

The governor appears convinced that a full vote of the Legislature on Common Core will result in it being overturned. Last year, no bill to weaken Common Core made it to the floor of the state Senate. Many legislators preferred to avoid voting on Common Core, which is unpopular with Louisiana residents but still backed by the state’s big business community.

“For every member that wants to vote on this, they’ll be given the opportunity. For those who want to hide from it, they won’t be able to hide from it,” Jindal said at his press conference.

Jindal’s Common Core Lawsuit Allowed to Continue

louisiana-state-flag-2The Advertiser reports that a Federal judge is allowing Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s Common Core lawsuit to proceed.

A federal judge refused Thursday to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s administration over the Common Core education standards.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick rejected Obama administration arguments that Jindal didn’t have the legal standing to bring the lawsuit and set a hearing date for the case on May 28.

Jindal sued the U.S. Department of Education in August, accusing it of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and policy waivers to illegally pressure states to adopt the English and math standards and associated testing.

Read the rest.

On the heels of the decision in Missouri it will be interesting to see how well this particular strategy works.

Louisiana School District to Consider PARCC Opt-Out

louisiana-state-flag-2The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that a local school board, the Terrebonne Parish School Board, will consider a resolution at their meeting tonight requesting the ability to opt-out of the PARCC assessment.

They report this school board is not the only one wrestling with what to do with the Common Core-aligned assessment that is meant to be implemented state-wide.

A resolution before the School Board Tuesday asks Gov. Bobby Jindal and state school Superintendent John White to allow Terrebonne out of the tests until “these programs have been thoroughly reviewed and understood by teachers, parents, community leaders, and approved by school board members,” according the Associated Press.

The move in Terrebonne comes as school districts across the state – including St. Tammany – grapple with how to handle students whose parents refuse to allow them to take the standardized tests in March. While it’s unknown at this stage how large the so-called “opt-out movement” in Louisiana might be, some districts nonetheless appear concerned.

In St. Tammany, the School Board twice last week asked BESE to hold a special meeting to give it direction on the issue.

St. Tammany board members are unhappy that students who don’t take the PARCC tests will count as zeroes for the schools and districts in the annual performance scores.

The Terrebonne discussion Tuesday night (Feb. 10) will be familiar to some who follow the St. Tammany School Board. Some St. Tammany School Board members last week suggested St. Tammany opt out of the tests as a district.

Bobby Jindal Releases K-12 Education Plan

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal released his policy paper on K-12 education entitled “K-12 Education Reform: A Road Map” through his non-profit organization America Next.

You can read his paper here or below.

As we approach 2016 we’ll post on candidates’ positions on K-12 education.

Jindal Orders State School Board to Provide PARCC Alternatives

louisiana-state-flag-2Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal issued the following executive order on Friday directing the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide an alternative to the PARCC assessment for parents in the state.

BESE’s DUTY TO UPHOLD THE ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEM AND OFFER ALTERNATIVES TO THE PARCC TEST

WHEREAS, the Preamble to Article VIII (Education) of the Louisiana Constitution provides:

The goal of the public educational system is to provide learning environments and experiences, at all stages of human development, that are humane, just, and designed to promote excellence in order that every individual may be afforded an equal opportunity to develop to his full potential.

WHEREAS, Article VIII of the Louisiana Constitution vests the legislature with the overall responsibility “to provide for the education of the people of the state” and establishes the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) as the state body responsible for the “supervision and control of public elementary and secondary schools … in accordance with law”;

WHEREAS, the State of Louisiana recognizes the vital interest of parents in the education of their children and the importance of fostering involvement between parents and schools;

WHEREAS, the legislature, in the performance of its overall constitutional responsibility for public education, has passed clear laws designed to facilitate parental involvement, assist student achievement, evaluate teachers based on value-added data, and establish an accountability system for schools and school districts, including:

• La. R.S. 17:406 et seq. (Family-School Partnership Act) to increase the collaboration of parents and schools,

• Act 54 of the 2010 Legislative Session (teacher evaluations) provides that 50% of teacher evaluations must be based on student achievement data,
• La. R.S. 17:10.1 (school and district accountability system) “which requires and supports student achievement in each public school” and “provide[s] clear standards and expectations for schools and schools systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood”, and

• La. R.S. 17:24.4 (…statewide standards for required subjects…) which requires BESE to implement standards-based assessments based on nationally-based content standards but does not specify any specific or particular assessment to utilize;

WHEREAS, BESE has chosen to utilize Common Core standards-based assessments developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”);

WHEREAS, beginning in March of this year, students statewide will be tested for the first time utilizing Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, (“PARCC”) standardized tests developed for Common Core;

WHEREAS, increasing numbers of Louisiana parents, teachers, and school districts are voicing concerns over Common Core and PARCC testing, and parents are exploring alternatives that are in the best interest of their children, including opting out of the PARCC test completely;

WHEREAS, BESE policy currently provides that students who do not take the PARCC test will receive a score of zero, impacting their own personal achievement, teacher evaluations, and school and district performance scores;

WHEREAS, nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessments utilized by other states, and compliant with La. R.S. 17:24.4, are readily available in the marketplace and offer complete and abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, either of which can easily be administered as alternatives to the PARCC test;

WHEREAS, it is inherent upon BESE, pursuant to the clear statutory findings of law provided by the legislature, to avert the growing disruption to this year’s assessments by offering alternative means of testing readily available in the marketplace and currently utilized by other states, in order to avoid the negative impacts to student achievement, the teacher evaluation system, and the school and district accountability system.

NOW, THEREFORE I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1: BESE is directed to adhere to the legislative findings in La. R.S. 17:406.1 regarding parental involvement, including “it has been clearly demonstrated that parental involvement in the schools is directly related to better student achievement, attitudes, and performance in school.”

SECTION 2: BESE is directed to adhere to the legislative purposes delineated in La. R.S. 17:10.1 regarding a school and district accountability system, including its purposes to “require and support student achievement in each public school” and to “provide clear standards and expectations for schools and school systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood”, in order to avoid student achievement being negatively impacted by a score of zero (0) as a result of non-participation.

SECTION 3: BESE is directed to uphold the state accountability system established by La. R.S. 17:10.1 so that it accurately reflects student achievement, teacher quality, and school performance, and allows parents to act on their beliefs for the best interests of their children.

SECTION 4: As a viable and necessary action, BESE is urged to grant districts the ability to offer nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessment appropriate for Louisiana as an alternative to the PARCC test, including abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, rather than penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.

SECTION 5: All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and political subdivisions of the state are authorized and directed to cooperate with the implementations of the provisions of this Order.

SECTION 6: This Order is effective upon signature and shall remain in effect until amended, modified, terminated or rescinded.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 30th day of January, 2015.

/s/ Bobby Jindal
GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA

ATTEST BY
THE GOVERNOR

/s/ Tom Schedler
SECRETARY OF STATE

And BESE’s response?  Board President Chas Roemer offered the following statement:

The Executive Order has no constitutional authority over the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The governor has proven time and time again he will do whatever he can to disrupt this process. We think it’s important that students take the test, as state assessments are the bedrock of our accountability system. For nearly five years, we have prepared our educators and students for higher standards and more rigorous assessments. BESE has also taken into consideration the need for a transition period where we would not denigrate schools, humiliate educators, or punish students. As we have every year, we invite any parent who has concerns to bring those concerns to BESE. We appreciate all parent involvement in their child’s education.

Parental input is important unless we disagree with you and then you just have to do what we say.  Needless to say the hubris shown by Roemer is simply amazing.  I’ve read through the Louisiana and I haven’t been able to find where it says they can ignore an executive order from the governor.

Bobby Jindal: Common Core is a Bait and Switch

On Sunday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallce and called the Common Core State Standards a “bait and switch.”

You can watch here or below:

Excerpt:

Governor Jindal: “When it started out it was supposed to be voluntary standards. This was a bait and switch. Race to the Top was never supposed to be about Common Core, and that’s why we are suing the federal government. This is a violation to the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution. Existing federal law says that the federal government shouldn’t make curriculum decisions.  My argument is that Arne Duncan has broken federal law in the Race to the Top funding, in the No Child Left Behind waivers, using federal dollars to force states into Common Core; and by the way, I’m still for high standards. I don’t want a one size fits all approach coming out of D.C….

“Chris, even the CEO of PARCC admitted that what gets tested drives curriculum, drives what gets taught in the classroom. I’ve seen it as a parent. My child has brought home the math homework under Common Core. Two and two used to be four, not under Common Core. They made it so complicated. There are a lot of people who have changed their views on Common Core when they see what it has become. I am for high standards, I am for accountability. If this were truly being driven by the states, and we wrote into our MOU with PARCC that they had to follow the state bid law; they didn’t do that, and that’s why we have gone to court. This is becoming a top down approach. Just like Obamacare, we were told you can keep your doctor; you can keep your health plan. We were told this would be a locally driven curriculum. That’s not what it is.  This is a one-sized fits all approach from D.C. We will continue to fight against this.”