Louisiana lawmakers and parents who oppose Common Core are supporting a plan they say would ultimately rid the state of the controversial education initiative. However, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has “concerns” about the legislation.
State Rep. Brett Geymann (R), who has led the movement against Common Core in the legislature, tells Breitbart News the plan is “a big win” for parents, children, teachers and citizens who want to eliminate the nationalized standards from Louisiana.
“Here is what we got out of the agreement,” Geymann says of the compromise made with advocates of Common Core. “PARCC is gone and we get a one-year contract for a test with less than 50 percent PARCC questions.”
PARCC refers to the Partnership for the Assessment for Readiness for College and Careers, one of the two federally funded consortia that have been developing interstate tests aligned with the Common Core standards.
Geymann states that, according to the plan, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) would begin the process of developing standards with public meetings in every congressional district, subject to the open meetings law.
“All minutes and public comments would be reported back to the legislature and legislative liaison,” he said. “And BESE must adopt new standards by March 4, 2016. The new BESE would be sworn in mid-January of 2016.”
Geymann explained that, upon adoption of the new standards the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) process would begin, allowing a 90-day public comment period and legislative committee oversight. The new state legislature would be sworn in as well in mid-January of 2016.
The Governor, Geymann says, would then have veto power over the adopted rule, and a new Governor also would be sworn in mid-January of 2016.
“BESE, however, must start the 90-day process immediately in the case of a veto,” he added. “Transparency, public involvement, following the APA laws in adoption, and a newly elected Governor, Legislature, and BESE board all favor our side.”
In return, Geymann said Common Core supporters get continued use of the current Common Core standards while the new process is developing, and the current BESE board will appoint the panel that actually develops the new standards.
“The committee passage of HB373 to develop new standards with public involvement, transparency, legislative oversight, the requirement of the elected BESE board to adopt, and veto power from the Governor is a big step in the right direction,” he added. “Once this bill makes it through the process, we will have a clear path to removing Common Core and implementing standards and assessments that are developed and controlled locally. We got a big win!”
Of the three bills that contain the plan, two have already advanced through the legislative process, and the third is expected to move early next week.
Parent activist Anna Arthurs, who has been opposing the Common Core standards for several years, agrees with Geymann that the legislation is a “win” for opponents of the reform initiative.
“This compromise represents a step towards an open and transparent process that engages the public on multiple levels and will remove our state from Common Core,” she tells Breitbart News. “It also expands accountability to the public from eight elected members of BESE to our whole legislature.”
Like Geymann, Arthurs explained that, under the Common Core initiative, Louisiana citizens were denied an open process that was transparent to the public and demanded accountability from the board.
“This led to our state – which a few years ago was considered to have the second highest standards in the nation according to a 2012 Education Week survey – to end up with inferior, developmentally inappropriate standards,” she said. “Even though we have more battles ahead, the hard work of our anti-Common Core legislators and parent activists has definitely brought us one step closer to success.”
“Once Governor Jindal’s signature is on HB 373, he can be the next governor to declare victory for removing Common Core from his state,” Arthurs added.
Though Jindal, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidate, once supported the Common Core standards, over the past 18 months he has been ardent in his opposition to the education reform, involving himself in three lawsuits to eradicate it.
In March, Jindal unveiled a plan that aimed to eliminate Common Core in Louisiana, by putting in place a new process involving a committee of parents, teachers, and school leaders to adopt new academic standards. Prior to the state legislature approving the legislation, Jindal proposed that public schools use the 2004-2005 grade-level expectations and the older LEAP and iLEAP assessments to measure student progress.
Additionally, Jindal said he would support legislation that makes BESE, like all state agencies, subject to APA rules. He wants to restrict the board from entering into contracts, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), and Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (CEAs) with third parties and the federal government, such as the ones BESE and the state Department of Education made with PARCC.
The governor’s plan also would ban the collection of student biometric data.
According to NOLA.com, while Jindal’s office was involved in the negotiations that led to the Louisiana “compromise” on the Common Core, the governor has “refused to endorse” the plan unveiled by Geymann and other lawmakers earlier this week.
In a statement to Breitbart News, Kyle Plotkin, Jindal’s Chief of Staff, said regarding the proposed deal: “We appreciate being involved in the negotiations on a compromise and support the process moving forward.”
We commend the Legislature for their hard work in getting to a place that could set up a process to get Common Core out of Louisiana.
It’s a good sign that BESE and the Department of Education have made a number of concessions in these negotiations in terms of reducing the number of PARCC questions on exams, leaving the PARCC consortia, allowing for public input on new standards and legislative oversight.
Nevertheless, Jindal’s office states it has some “concerns.”
“First, we are concerned that the veto mechanism in the proposed legislation could set up a process where the state reverts to Common Core,” Plotkin said. “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.”
“We will work with the Legislature on these items and we will also continue to pursue our federal lawsuit against Common Core,” he added.