Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who is in a fight to keep her Senate seat against retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness (R) and U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R), told Daily World she is passionate about the Common Core’s ability to lift Louisiana out of last place in national education rankings.
In an effort, as well, to reach out across the political aisle, Landrieu praised current U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R-LA)–both candidates for governor–for their support of the Common Core standards.
“Common Core was developed at the state and local level, not at the national level,” Landrieu said. “It is not a national-led effort, it is a state and local-led effort and it’s an effort that Bobby Jindal himself led as a governor some years ago and then decided to change.”
Despite Landrieu’s insistence that the initiative was state-led, the federal government has been involved in the standards from the get-go with Race-to-the-Top funding offered in President Obama’s stimulus bill to states that would agree to adopt a set of “common standards” and to a complex system of student data collection, as well as waivers from federal No Child Left Behind restrictions. Race to the Top also funded the two Common Core test consortia that are developing assessments aligned with the standards.
In addition, both former White House adviser David Axelrod and Common Core “architect” David Coleman have indicated that President Obama and U.S. Education Department Secretary Arne Duncan have been involved in Common Core from the beginning. Coleman, Obama, and Duncan knew each other when Obama was an Illinois state senator and Duncan was head of Chicago public schools.
Common Core “architect” Coleman is now president of the College Board, which administers the Advanced Placement, SAT, and ACT tests, all of which are now being aligned with Common Core.
Stanley Kurtz of National Review Online recently reviewed the new A.P. U.S. History (APUSH) framework and exam and referred to it as “radical revisionist U.S. history” that “demotes” the U.S. founders and reduces the nation to being a “self-deluded imperialist power.”
“Most true reformers from both parties understand the value of a common set of learning measures to make sure that when our kids leave with a diploma, the diploma means something,” Landrieu said, adding that she credits the Bush administration for requiring tougher standards.
“We’re expecting results,” she continued. “I crossed party lines to help George Bush put into place for the first time in our nation’s history strong accountability standards for our schools” by passing Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act calling for assessments and tougher standards.
“In the old days, before the Bush administration, we used to just send money down here, no matter what,” Landrieu said. “Now we don’t. We send money based on performance and based on results and that is helping to change Louisiana’s results.”
Maness disagrees, however.
The Common Core was “designed with very minimal teacher involvement, almost no parent involvement, has driven concerns across the state and I’m in contact with many of the Common Core groups that want it removed,” Maness said. “The power to drive standards and curriculum and those kinds of things need to be in the local governments’ and parents’ hands, not in the federal government’s.”
“Has the federal government really increased anything in education?” Maness asked. “Since 1970, I think we’ve increased spending on the federal level 375 percent and there’s been no appreciable movement in test scores.”
Landrieu, in fact, is hoping for more federal funding of state and local education and is critical of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R-LA) rejection of a $60 million early education grant several years ago.
“Not only has he harmed our kids in K-12, by turning down a $60 million early education grant,” she said, “he’s the only governor, or one of the few, that rejected a broadband grant.”
“It could have connected young kids, middle school kids, high school kids and college kids in the northeastern part of our state, which is the poorest region of our state, and every school and library to high-speed Internet,” she added, accusing Jindal of “running for president of the Tea Party.”
As Breitbart News reported in early August, Vitter stunned his conservative supporters when he came out in praise of Common Core.
“I support the strong standards Louisiana now has in place and think Gov. Jindal’s attempt to start from scratch right before the new school year is very disruptive,” Vitter said.
His remarks praising the controversial initiative, however, have drawn responses suggesting he either lacks knowledge about the issues surrounding it or has made a fast political calculation, perhaps due to the promise of funding for his campaign from big business champions of the Common Core.
Common Core opponents in Louisiana have also sent Vitter an open letter, asking him to end his support for the nationalized standards.