Last Modified: Sunday, July 06, 2014 1:58 PM
Gov. Bobby Jindal has reached down deep in his bag of tricks and devious tactics in his ongoing efforts to enhance his run for the White House in 2016. The governor’s latest move to end the controversial Common Core curriculum in public schools is a new low.
The Jindal administration last week said the state Department of Education will have to get its approval before signing any contracts exceeding $2,000. The previous cap was $20,000.
Agencies of state government are being used by Jindal for his personal political ambitions. The Legislature has refused to kill Common Core, but the governor has made the lawmaking branch totally ineffective whenever it doesn’t do his bidding. And that is its own fault.
Writing about Common Core, the tougher curriculum that aims at new standards in reading, writing and math, has become a hazardous occupation. Those of us who delve into the subject can’t win for losing. Just mentioning the words inflames the opposition.
State Rep. Brett Geymann of Moss Bluff, the chief legislative opponent of Common Core, and Rep. Jim Morris of Oil City, his partner in that fight, are friends of mine. However, every time I write about the issue, I get on their bad side.
I don’t support or oppose Common Core. Like so many others, I know little about how it works or whether it’s a good idea. What I do know is that Louisiana has been on the bottom of national educational rankings for most of my long lifetime, and that is extremely frustrating.
If Common Core isn’t the answer, then let’s find out what is. Meanwhile, it’s been in the works since 2010 and it’s too late at this point to be picking an alternative.
Opponents will argue that isn’t the case. Many in the education community say it is. The best way to determine who is right is to continue the program now and let the 2015 legislative session come up with a better idea, if there is one. This last-minute political posturing by Jindal is causing too much turmoil and indecision with another school session just around the corner.
David Corona, the retiring superintendent of West Baton Rouge Parish Schools, speaks with authority in a letter to The Advocate. Corona has 43 years’ experience in pre K-12 education in both public and private school systems. He has served at every level from teacher to coach to district superintendent.
“If graded for his effort and performance, Gov. Bobby Jindal has earned a grade of F,” Corona said. “By reversing his position on Common Core standards, and now calling for their removal from Louisiana, he is playing to the tea party (not traditional Republicans) and, in my opinion, is attempting to sacrifice the future of Louisiana’s children for his own political gain...”
Corona said the curriculum has “a clear focus on what business and industry says they are starving for in employees at all levels...” He said he doesn’t care what tests are used to measure student achievement because there are a number of them out there.
“Let’s just call it like it is,” Corona said. “We now have a governor who makes some decisions based on his best national political posture, or even worse, he really now believes that a set of standards holding our children and educators to what is needed for children to be successful in the future is not good.
“Either way, and for his efforts to demonize the public school community in Louisiana as a whole, Jindal has earned an F. Plain and simple. Even though he has earned his failing grade, I’m thrilled that he won’t be retained.”
You can’t help but think of the late Gov. Huey P. Long when you see how Jindal is using his office and state agencies he controls for his own personal and political pursuits. Competent and successful governors are better than that.
Most public officials who head agencies at local, state, regional and national levels have authority to sign contracts up to reasonable limits without having to go through the hoops Jindal has now created for the state Department of Education. Some can sign contracts in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I have been surprised that those who have criticized the governor’s actions have been so restrained in their remarks. He hasn’t been nearly as kind to them.
Chas Roemer is president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which adopted Common Core in 2010 at Jindal’s urging. He said he was “disappointed that the governor would do this.”
John White, state superintendent of education, called the administration’s actions unconstitutional and illegal.
It was obvious Jindal was simply trying for political gain when he said recently he still had faith in White. He said the two of them simply disagreed on the issue of Common Core. Others who have haven’t followed the governor’s every wish to the letter weren’t so lucky. They were dispatched with haste.
Vindictiveness and pettiness are the only words that adequately describe the governor’s latest effort to have his way on Common Core. Jindal isn’t the first Louisiana governor to use his office to advance his own personal agenda, but this spiteful move puts him at the top of that list, or awfully close to the top.
Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than five decades. Contact him at 494-4025 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted By: Paula Reeves On: 7/7/2014
Title: Don't Hate Jindal
He did not make Louisiana one of the bottom of the Barrel in Education. No Educator should hold his head up high. We the parents are tired of having to pay for additional tutoring , Grade "D" schools.
Posted By: Ann Burruss On: 7/7/2014
Title: Jindal's latest move reasonable to many parents
If "business leaders" are "so starved" for Common Core, let's replace the standards, curricula, and standardized tests at the private schools where business leaders and BESE president Chas Roemer send their children, with Common Core State Standards, CCSS-aligned curricula like Engage NY Math, and the PARCC standardized test.
Don't hold your breath as you wait for that switch to happen. The private schools would not take that offer. They would refuse to give up their autonomy to teach by choosing CCSS-alignment. The top private schools don't use such standards, they develop their own unique curricula and their own formative and summative assessments - avoiding punitive high-stakes tests. They provide arts, sciences, field-trips, hands-on learning, labs, performance, enrichments of all kinds, and would trade none of it for test-prep and high-stakes accountability as 'business leaders' would have the public schools do.
Chas Roemer and John White are fighting hard for the nationally profitable CCSS-aligned curricula and tests to be cemented in Louisiana. Money and reputation are at stake. They need to assert that there is nothing else we can do, that to drop CCSS and PARCC leaves us racing to the bottom. That is not true. Louisiana's existing state standards were rated as highly as Common Core State Standards by two evaluating organizations. Teachers are familiar with the state standards. Students are familiar with the LEAP tests. White and Roemer are just blowing more smoke.
Do your own thinking and research, parents and teachers. Think about the public education landscape since NCLB. According to NCLB, all children are supposed to be 'reading and doing math at grade level' in 2014. Did NCLB and its high-stakes testing regime make that happen? No. What possible reason exists for a new set of standards and a new high-stakes test to do the job when a previous set of equally good standards and aligned high-stakes tests did not?
Ask a teacher this question: Can you switch back to using the state standards, the GLEs and the LEAP teats? Or is this an expensive and impossible task? Ask yourself if you would prefer a state and locally developed model that could be more in-line with the customization that the best private schools provide, or would you prefer to rest your hopes for an excellent education for all children on certain standards and high-stakes standardized test?
The bemoaning of the USA scores on international tests is a distractor. That the USA is #23 in PISA, behind Finland, Singapore, South Korea - while true statistically, doesn't tell the real story. The real sad story is that the USA is #1 in child poverty among the developed world. This is a national shame. We need economic policies and good jobs that lift families out of poverty so children can come to school ready to learn, not to worry about their next meal or where they will sleep. When the PISA test scores of American children who live in poverty are normalized to equal the same low percent of children in poverty internationally -- the USA is again at the top of the list! Scores of US non-poverty children equal those of other nations with low child poverty levels. This does not mean we are OK with the status quo if we vary the statistics. No! It means we need to determine how to do two difficult things; both pull children out of poverty, and help children in poverty succeed in school. The NCLB-way did not work.
Poverty proves again and again to be the great challenge to effective and equitable education for all children. Business leaders, please quit your simplistic, yet profitable dream of making money off CCSS implementation while doubling down on the failures of NCLB. It's not a new set of standards called Common Core, new aligned-curricula, and new computer-based high stakes tests that are going to lift the USA to #1 on PISA again, make all children college or career ready, or have all children score at grade level on high-stakes tests - whatever the goal du jour. It's fighting poverty and ensuring all children are ready to learn each day. That's hard work. And more, it's engaging each child in learning, through art, math, English, science, dance, poetry, history, drama, band, 4H, ROTC, basketball, football, cheerleading or chess club - finding their dream so they can pursue their American dram
I believe that business leaders are turning their backs on the fight against child poverty, and on all education approaches besides the streamlining and standardizing. They are chasing profits, and the taxes paid for public schooling across the US is a pot of money impossible to resist. CCSS and the annual sales of its aligned curricula and technology-based tests will provide guaranteed income for years. Charter schools are more profitable when CCSS is adopted nation-wide. The multi-state for-profit charter school management companies have bigger market shares and efficiencies when they only need one set of standards and curricula, and can test-prep children for only one test.
Improving student outcomes in the US public education system through standards and high-stakes tests has not been shown to work. Not in the US. Not anywhere. The children of business leaders are safe in private schools. Business leaders dream of running the public schools like a business. Shame on them and shame on the enablers.
Posted By: Ruxton Istre On: 7/7/2014
Odd how Governor Jindal is "vindictive" about his means and measures, but when the President of the United States does something with his "pen"...it's just fine. President Obama's executive orders and his usage of them are just as vindictive as Governor Jindal's, but yet no one reports or writes about that. I guess the media and their ilk do indeed slant for which person/party they support. Sadly.
Posted By: Monica Hebert On: 7/7/2014
There are a few hundred active parents and teachers in this issues, here in Calcasieu Parish. We applaud our Gov. for taking this stand with John White. For too long Mr. White has gone unchecked as has the BESE Board. I was at the latest meeting- last Tuesday, July 2. I watched in horror the arrogance of Holly Boffy, our representative , I watch in horror how John White lied again and again and again. I'm sorry, Jim, on this topic I must respectfully say you are wrong. And I implore you to do some more investigation. Thank you.