The NOLA.com/Times-Picayune editorial board is quoting a big business and industry group in Louisiana to rail against Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) recent executive order to protect parents and school districts from consequences of opting out of the Common Core-aligned PARCC tests.
Jindal discussed the Common Core standards in his address on Thursday in Washington, D.C., at an event sponsored by American Principles Project.
Criticizing Jindal’s executive order as fear mongering, the board’s editorial uses quotes from Common Core champion Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL) and other big business groups to support its claim that Jindal’s executive order is “irresponsible — and not possible.”
The editorial board writes:
Testing is scheduled for March for third- through eighth-graders. Teachers and school leaders in Louisiana have spent several years working on the PARCC test, which will allow students here to be compared with their peers in other states. There is no other test to measure how well students meet the math and language arts standards set by BESE.
In taking sides with big business, however, the NOLA.com editorial board presents a bogus argument.
In a recent article at Education Next, in which they evaluate Senate education committee chairman Lamar Alexander’s (R) draft of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) reauthorization, Ze’ev Wurman, former U.S. Department of Education official under President George W. Bush, and Williamson “Bill” Evers, a conservative research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, write the argument that “comparability” with students in other states is “a non-issue.”
“…[W]e already have comparability among states via NAEP testing and NAEP-state equating studies that go back ten years, and this approach can be easily extended to multiple assessments within states,” the authors continued.
NAEP, of course, is the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.” Its website states that NAEP is “the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.”
Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time.
That said, the editorial board contradicts itself later on in its piece by quoting the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry, ExxonMobil, Cajun Industries, Contech, United Way, and the Urban League’s joint statement, “For years, Louisiana has been ranked at the bottom nationally in terms of education outcomes. We must improve. We cannot afford to abandon or delay the years of hard work that is now beginning to benefit our students.”
Of course, NOLA.com’s editorial board’s claim is also false in the sense that it implies the only way schools in Louisiana can know how to improve is by having access to data of schools in New York, Colorado, and other states.
“Logically speaking, none of this makes a bit of sense,” the editorial board quotes CABL’s commentary piece titled “Opting Out of School Tests Makes No Sense for Kids.”
“This is really … about Common Core standards. But refusing to take the test doesn’t change the fact that we’re still teaching to those standards. In fact, it means nothing except that we won’t know whether those students actually learned what they were taught,” CABL said. “In the old days, that’s what tests were about.”
Actually, “in the old days,” there were plenty of measures teachers used within their own classrooms to decide if children were learning what they were being taught. The problem with those measures—from the perspective of organizations like CABL—is that they were not connected to the massive national student data collection that big business and the “school-to-work” or “workforce development” champions are hoping to get their hands on to ensure a stable supply of labor for their businesses. These groups want the government to help them out with a steady stream of workers. In fact, the primary reason for states to spend millions on high-end education technology is so the federally funded PARCC and SBAC Common Core-aligned tests can be administered and this data can be collected.
“Clearly, other tests can be used to measure students against other states and no one is suggesting doing away with all testing,” Louisiana State Rep. Brett Geymann (R) told Breitbart News. “But every recent poll among educators and parents has shown there is not broad support, and in fact, there is an overwhelming dislike of Common Core and all that comes with it.”
NOLA.com’s editorial board, however, uses Baton Rouge District Judge Todd Hernandez’s ruling last August that Gov. Jindal has no power to end Louisiana’s participation in Common Core.
“Despite the governor’s efforts, there is broad support among Louisiana business, civic and education leaders for Common Core,” the editorial board asserts.
This statement, of course, is true. CABL’s website points to its goal of a shared alliance between big business and government.
“State leaders look to CABL as an active participant in efforts to improve education, economic development and the operations of state government,” CABL states.
American parents and students, however, are caught between public schools and colleges overrun by left-wing teachers’s unions and faculties versus the big business, U.S. Chamber of Commerce-inspired “workforce development” lobby that is advocating for Common Core.
Parental rights, of course, are not on the “top ten” list of either teachers’s unions or big business. Last summer, Louisiana parents who oppose the Common Core standards reported that, during state education committee hearings, Stephanie Desselles of CABL engaged in ridiculing behavior which included “snickering” and “laughing” at parents as they testified against the standards, to the point of being “disruptive.”
“Along with big business executives and special interest groups, most in the media have been very vocal in criticizing the parents and lawmakers who want to rid the state of Common Core,” Geymann said. “In criticizing the parents’ right to opt their children out of the PARCC-like exam—which does not even count this year—these groups have shown a total disrespect for the parents and grandparents who have made an important decision concerning who is most precious to them.”
“These special interest groups and big business executives continue to support an education policy that is obviously crumbling across the country,” he added. “In doing so, they have shown a lack of concern for parental rights and exposed their support for nationalized education. This goes against the very fabric of our country.”