Legislature: Bill against Common Core rejected

By By John Guidroz / American Press

BATON ROUGE — After hours of debate, the House Education Committee on Wednesday voted 12-7 to reject legislation by Rep. Brett

Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, that would revamp the Common Core state standards and assessments and set up a commission to craft

a new set of standards.

The standing-room only crowd spilled

into additional committee rooms to hear House Bill 381. Geymann said it

would set up

a 30-plus member Student Standards Commission to draft a set of

standards that would be equal to, or better than Common Core.

Geymann and other supporters said the bill would provide transparency for teachers and parents while the new standards were


“This gives us the chance to develop

our own standards, equal to or higher than what we have,” he said. “We

will have transparency

and accountability, something that separates us from what we have

today, and have state and local control.”

The opponents, which included

businesses, Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members and the

state Department of

Education, said delaying Common Core would hurt the progress

already made in improving education within the state. John White,

state education superintendent, told the committee he has “yet to

hear a good response” to how Geymann’s bill helps students

within the state.

“Our kids … deserve basic education on par with every child in America,” he said. “As of next year, not only will our kids

be taught at a minimum standard, but will be measured with validity as any child in the land. This is a bill to terminate

that idea; we should be very clear about that.”

Later in the day, a staffer with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office filed a “green” card in support of Geymann’s bill. The governor

has remained largely silent on the issue and was out of town during Wednesday’s hearing. No one from the governor’s office

testified during the hearing.

BESE Board member Holly Boffy said the bill “doesn’t address the current challenge” of implementing quality education standards

and pushes that challenge “all the way down the road.”

Barry Irwin, president of the Council for a Better Louisiana, said the bill would move the state “in the absolutely wrong


Keith Leger, a school administrator in Calcasieu Parish, said that 70 percent of nearly 300 math and English teachers surveyed

within the parish supported keeping Common Core standards in place or putting in “minor modifications.”

“The overwhelming theme on minor modifications is more resources and more training, not modifying the standards,” he said.

Calcasieu School Board Member Fredman Hardy said Common Core has made students within his district perform better.

“Every time standards were brought in, we were more focused,” he said. “Perhaps this bill is developmentally delayed.”

A number of teachers and parents voiced support to reform Common Core. Debbie Meaux, president of the Louisiana Association

of Educators, said the bill is a compromise and a response to the “distrust” of Common Core.

Marla Baldwin, a Calcasieu Parish teacher for nearly 20 years and mother of four in the public school system, said she supports

taking a closer look at Common Core. Since Common Core has been implemented, she said she “can’t help my own children with

their homework.”

Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, said

he was concerned that the bill would impact a child being taught

standards in one district

and moving to another district where another set of standards are


“Is that going to be replicated no matter what you do,” he asked Geymann. “That 4th grader who moves … are we setting up that

child for failure?”

Following the vote, Geymann said he was disappointed in the outcome. He said he would work on other legislation in the House

and Senate to address the reform of Common Core.

“The fight’s still going on,” Geymann said.

Voting for the bill were Reps. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, John Bel Edwards, D-Amite, Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, Paul Hollis,

R-Covington, Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, Jerome “Dee” Richard, I-Thibodaux, Robert Shadoin, R-Ruston.

Opposing the bill were Reps. Stephen

Carter, R-Baton Rouge, Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, Chris Broadwater,

R-Hammond, Thomas

Carmody, R-Shreveport, Simone Champagne, R-Erath, Patrick

Jefferson, D-Homer, Nancy Landry, R-Lafayette, Edward Price, D-Gonzales,

Eugene Reynolds, D-Minden, Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, Jeff

Thompson, R-Bossier City and Alfred Williams, D-Baton Rouge.

The committee voted 12-7 to reject House Bill 558 by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, would prevent the use of the Common Core

assessment measure known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Several teachers voiced opposition to the PARCC testing, arguing that it does not consider the individual needs of each student

and is expensive. Opponents said the bill would gut the accountability of how well students are performing.

Voting for the bill were Burns, Edwards, Henry, Hollis, Ivey, Richard and Shadoin.

Voting against the bill were Carter, Bishop, Broadwater, Carmody, Champagne, Jefferson, Landry, Price, Reynolds, Smith, Thompson

and Williams.