Louisiana Parents Complain About Common Core Review

louisiana-state-flag-2

Louisiana parents complain about the Common Core review process currently underway in the state.

The New Orleans Advocate reports:

The goal of the committee meeting that Carla and Carl Hebert turned up for was to draft a new set of math standards for grades three through 12 by the end of the day. Small groups of teachers divided by grade level spent two hours coming up with proposed changes, then reconvened to debate the proposed alterations. Members of the public who had come to provide input had to sit and wait. Public comment was not scheduled until after the debate.

This was only the first step of a long, arcane process. The proposed changes were to head next to a “standards committee,” a second group of educators who would hold public hearings and then send notes back to the original committee.

Separate sets of committees would do the same for English standards in grades three to 12 and those for kindergarten through the second grade.

Finally, when all of the committees have wrapped up their work, the changes will go before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for a final vote in March.

Given the breadth of material to cover, the process can be unwieldy. At the math committee meeting, Dufrene suggested changes to most of the fourth-grade standards, leaving the committee no time to debate the other grades. The meeting broke up after 7 p.m. without taking much public comment, though only about two dozen members of the public showed up.

Dufrene’s changes focused on areas in which she felt the standards had crossed the line from telling teachers what they needed to teach to dictating how they needed to teach.

For example, she called for removing language from a fourth-grade multiplication standard that suggested teachers should ask students to explain answers by using equations, arrays or area models. Arrays, where students use dots to represent numbers, and area models, in which students shade in parts of a rectangle, are visual tools used to show their work.

While some of the educators agreed with Dufrene, others felt the language was necessary to ensure teachers go beyond teaching the procedure and use techniques that encourage deeper, more conceptual learning. Those who opposed cutting the language eventually won out.

Carla Hebert, meanwhile, felt completely shut out by the process. “If they really wanted to include us, they would have started with public comment,” she said late in the afternoon. “It’s after 3 o’clock; we’ve been just sitting here for six hours.”

As in other states, an online survey was designed to be the primary vehicle for parents to weigh in on potential changes. But in state after state, this has proven to be a highly imperfect and fraught way of soliciting parent feedback.

Read the whole article.

The online review process that parents were allowed to participate in was not parent-friendly. It appeared to be designed to lead to a positive result for Common Core. Also because the online portal was not parent-friendly fewer parents participated. Louisiana legislators were concerned that the compromise made that launched this review was not being honored by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

This is the same trend we’ve seen time and time and time again in states that offer a “review” it’s totally stacked against parents and it does not look like Louisiana will be any different.

What Louisiana Gubernatorial Candidates Have in Common

louisiana-state-flag-2There is no love lost among the candidates vying to become Governor of Louisiana for the Common Core State Standards.

AP reports:

They differ in many ways but the two candidates for governor in Louisiana’s Nov. 21 runoff election share an aversion to the Common Core education standards.

But, after Common Core supporters helped elect a six-member majority to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the question is how much change either Democrat John Bel Edwards or Republican David Vitter would be able to affect in the way the state evaluates and tests students.

….

Edwards, a state representative, is among critics who say it was implemented in Louisiana too quickly and with too little input from Louisiana educators.

Vitter, the state’s senior U.S. senator, once supported the standards but now criticizes them as a federal intrusion. The federal government doesn’t require Common Core, but the Obama administration has backed it with money.

Ok, Edwards’ opposition is a little sketchy since he just opposes how they were implemented so I really don’t know how firm his opposition really is.  We also know Vitter was somewhat late to the party in his opposition, but now seems to be firmly against.

What can either of them do at the offset?  Not much as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has demonstrated in his fight against them since the judicial branch appears to believe that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is superior to the Governor’s office.  With the recent Chamber-bought elections that make up part of the board I’m not holding my breath for any meaningful action anytime soon.

Louisiana Standards Compromise Not Kept

louisiana-state-flag-2The members of the Louisiana House of Representatives who negotiated new education standards now say that the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are not agreeing to a spirit of compromise.  Color me not shocked that educrats are not acting in good faith. I do appreciate the legislators calling attention to it.

From a news release sent last week:

The group of House members who negotiated the agreement on developing new standards in the 2015 legislative session, (Geymann, Schroder, Pope, Harris, Henry, Havard and Hensgens), have declared that the spirit of the compromise has not been kept by BESE or the Department of Education.  While negotiating the agreement, Superintendent John White made the point that the review committee should have access to anything they need to make their decisions.  The legislators who have concerns with the existing standards worked in good faith on this agreement with other legislators and stakeholders.  The intent was to identify the areas of concern and make appropriate adjustments to improve the standards and remove the controversy while making them Louisiana’s own.  This week the BESE members voted 7 – 4 not to give the standards review committee the data necessary to judge the validity and appropriateness of the existing standards. 

Without the appropriate data, the review committee cannot perform their job and have no way of judging the validity of the standards.  It is now the opinion of these House members that the majority of the current BESE board and department of education are not willing to allow this panel to achieve the intent of the legislative agreement to remove Louisiana from the existing standards and develop the state’s own high standards that have been improved by making adjustments in the areas of concern.

There is no reason to participate with a committee whose outcome has been predetermined by the lack of data and resources from the Department of Education. The House members also call for the four major candidates for governor to bring forth in their legislative package, legislation that will remove our state from the existing standards and create strong and appropriate Louisiana standards. 

They then listed some additional concerns about the review process given to them by some of the review panelists. Which you can read below:

Common Core Supporter Chas Romer Not Seeking Reelection to Louisiana BESE

louisiana-state-flag-2The Baton Rogue Advocate reports that the Louisiana’s biggest cheerleader for Common Core, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, will not seek reelection to the board.

“I have never sought to be a lifelong politician,” he told The Advocate in an interview. “I have other things to do.”

Roemer has been undecided for weeks on whether to seek re-election.

However, his announcement shakes up the contests for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at a crucial time.

Educators and others just launched a review of Common Core, eight of 11 BESE seats will be on the Oct. 24 primary ballot and the results will help determine the future of sweeping changes in public schools since 2012.

BESE will recommend what and how Common Core should be changed, which means the primary contests and Nov. 21 runoffs will help determine whether the panel retains its pro-Common Core tilt.

Read more.

How much his advocacy for Common Core hurt Roemer’s reelection prospects is uncertain, but this provides an opportunity for Louisiana parents to flip the state school board.

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 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.

Jindal to Join Louisiana Lawmakers' Common Core Lawsuit

The battle over Common Core rages on in the Bayou State as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal filed paperwork to join several state lawmakers who are suing the state department of education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported late last week.

“We are excited about the governor joining our lawsuit. The democratic process was ignored and, with the help of the [Jindal] administration, we are confident we will be victorious and the people will win,” said state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charless, who is leading an anti-Common Core group of 17 state lawmakers in the legal action.

The legislators allege that Louisiana’s Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did not properly advertise the new standards before implementing Common Core. They lost an initial legal battle using this same argument back in August, when a judge denied the same state lawmakers’ request to block use of the educational benchmarks immediately.

This is in addition to the federal lawsuit Jindal has filed against the U.S. Department of Education.

Governor Jindal Doesn't Have a Seat at the Education Table?

I just read this morning an article in The Advertiser, a Louisiana newspaper, that gave an update on the lawsuit happening over Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order removing the state from PARCC and halting the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

The attorney representing the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education made a rather inane comment – Jindal doesn’t have a seat at the education policymaking table.

Attorney Phil Preis, representing BESE, said the governor and his administration have no authority to interfere in education and “they don’t have a seat at the table.” Education policy is left to the Legislature and BESE.

Fascinating. I’ve never seen this argument made before. I’m sure Mr. Preis would have zero problem with Jindal sitting at the education table if was in lockstep with BESE. How can you say the person responsible for the execution of state law in the state doesn’t have a seat at the table? The Louisiana Constitution doesn’t suggest it. This is ironic as the adoption of Common Core was marked by executive overreach. In fact, the Louisiana State Legislature didn’t vote on the standards.

So I guess they don’t have a seat at the table except when it suits BESE. We have seen a state board of education make that particular claim when state board members in Oklahoma sued to try to stop that state’s Common Core repeal saying the state legislature didn’t have authority to do what they did.

Is there no limit to the hubris of these people?