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Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, center, speaks during a legislative session on Wednesday in Baton Rouge. Henry was supporting a bill that would create a state commission to develop Louisiana's educational standards, rather than continue the state's use of the Common Core standards. (Associated Press)

Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, center, speaks during a legislative session on Wednesday in Baton Rouge. Henry was supporting a bill that would create a state commission to develop Louisiana's educational standards, rather than continue the state's use of the Common Core standards. (Associated Press)

Legislature: Bill against Common Core rejected

Last Modified: Thursday, April 03, 2014 11:09 AM

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 written.

“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 direction.”

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 taught.

“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.

Posted By: Noel Hammatt On: 4/24/2014

Title: Independent Education Researcher

Interesting that Keith Leger failed to mention that he wrote the survey and gave it out by sending it through official emails from the Calcasieu School Board... We don't know anything about exactly who filled it out, or who they thought would be looking at it, or even who had produced it. What we do know is that Leger should have admitted it was "his" survey when touting the results.

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