Black Education Group Funds Pro-Common Core Lawsuit Against LA Gov. Bobby Jindal

A pro-Common Core black education group is funding a group of parents and teachers in a lawsuit against Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), charging that he is illegally trying to remove the state from the controversial nationalized standards and their aligned assessments.

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) has supported Jindal in the past, particularly with the Louisiana school voucher program.

 “To change course now after so much teacher, school and student preparation creates an air of uncertainty and confusion,” said Eric Lewis, Louisiana state director of BAEO, according to The Advocate.

Navis Hill, who lives in New Orleans and is one of the plaintiffs, said Jindal’s executive orders removing the state from the Common Core standards and PARCC, its multi-state test consortium, are endangering the educational future of her four children.

“My kids are being sacrificed due to politics,” Hill said.

Courtney Dumas, a fourth-grade teacher and another plaintiff, told reporters that the Common Core standards have been in the implementation process for the past four years. “And they are working,” Dumas said. “Right now is not the time to back out of something that is effective and working.” Dumas asserted, “What we are teaching this year, what is being tested this year and what we are teaching is going to prepare students to compete in a global economy," adding, "Not just a Louisiana economy, a global economy.”

The BAEO website contains many of the popular pro-Common Core talking points, such as the standards are “state-led,” and are “research-based, and internationally-benchmarked,” although there is no research or studies to prove the standards are valid. In addition, the federal government enticed states into signing onto the Common Core standards--without any review of them ahead of time--with funding and waivers from federal No Child Left Behind restrictions.

Regarding the Common Core standards and the black community, BAEO also states:

BAEO believes all children deserve access to a high-quality education. It is BAEO's goal to promote high quality educational options and reform strategies that address the urgent educational needs of our community and promise to close the achievement gap. CCSSI [Common Core] strives to eradicate the impact that a families' [sic] geography has on the quality of education that their child obtains.

There are several additional factors that are embedded in this equation. Where a family lives is also associated with their income and race. Black low-income and working class families are disproportionately located in those school districts and states where their child's education is jeopardized by low academic standards and expectations. Therefore, these families would benefit from CCSSI as this effort strives to have all schools within and between states be held to the same high standards, rigor, and expectations for student learning and achievement.

Furthermore, given BAEO's interest in promoting parent involvement and options for parents to obtain high quality education for their children, BAEO supports the standards and will work to generate greater support of the standards within the Black community. The standards will better equip parents with knowledge about what their child should be learning in certain grades. This knowledge will allow the parents to hold their schools more accountable for providing high-quality instruction aligned with the standards.

However, in a recent article written for Breitbart News, Dr. Sandra Stotsky--who developed the former Massachusetts standards, which are among the most highly acclaimed in the nation--wrote about her recent experience discussing the Common Core standards with minority parents and administrators.

Stotsky wrote:

An audience filled with African American and Hispanic educators got it right away. No one had told them that Common Core’s standards don’t prepare American kids for some of the best jobs in the 21st century—STEM-related jobs. Nor had they been told that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) leave out high school chemistry and the lab-based physics course on the grounds that they constitute “advanced work in the sciences," and that "students wishing to move into STEM fields should be encouraged to follow their interest with additional coursework" (page 5 of 11 in second section of NGSS "Front Matter").

....

African American and Hispanic administrators in the audience want their children in the public schools to have the same opportunity to get into a selective college as kids whose parents can afford to hire math and science tutors to make up for the deficits in their public school curriculum--or to send them to a private school that will teach their kids what Bill Gates’ kids learn in the private school they attend in Seattle.

“These parents wonder why the writers of Common Core’s standards assume that all African American and Hispanic kids can’t get beyond community college and can’t be expected to aim for a STEM career,” Stotsky said. “That is the only reason they can come up with for the absence of mathematics standards in Common Core that would prepare high school kids for the third 'pathway' (the one to calculus)."

The BAEO lawsuit was filed just one day after 17 Louisiana lawmakers filed a lawsuit in Baton Rouge district court, seeking an immediate suspension of the Common Core standards in the state’s schools. The lawmakers argue the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and state education department failed to follow the state’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA) for implementing the Common Core standards.

“The governor has effectively thrown a wrench into accountability, putting parents, teachers and students in a position of immediate peril,” said Stephen Kupperman of Barrasso Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, the law firm which is representing the pro-Common Core plaintiffs and one of the firms that BESE President Chas Roemer said had also offered early in the month to represent BESE without charge in a lawsuit to be waged against Jindal by BESE.

In June, Jindal issued executive orders to remove his state from the controversial Common Core standards and the assessments tied to them. He based this move on the argument that the decision by the Louisiana Department of Education to sign onto the PARCC Common Core test consortium was unlawful because it bypassed the state’s procurement law which requires an open bidding process.

Earlier in the week, The Advocate observed that the Louisiana Common Core debate had “mushroomed into the biggest education fight” in the state, according to veteran education officials.


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