Our Views: Holding on to progress

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ascension Parish School Superintendent Patrice Pujol testimonies before the House Education Committee who was considering bills to repeal or revamp Common Core academic standards.
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Ascension Parish School Superintendent Patrice Pujol testimonies before the House Education Committee who was considering bills to repeal or revamp Common Core academic standards.

The path to higher academic standards in Louisiana schools is not going to be easy. It is a process that leads to more effective schools and more productive lives for today’s students.

That is why it is so disappointing to see Gov. Bobby Jindal side with those of left and right who would retreat from progress.

The House Education Committee voted 12-7 against bills that would have derailed the implementation of Common Core academic standards in Louisiana.

The suggestion of another — and in our view, pointless — study committee on the standards was pushed by teacher unions and some conservative lawmakers. After this alliance of the hard left and the hard right, Jindal signaled his support for the new study, proposed in House Bill 381 by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles.

The problem? Years of work would go down the drain, as happened in Indiana when that state tried to go it alone instead of adopting the Common Core standards developed by a coalition of states several years ago. Millions of dollars would be wasted, and the goal of improving academic standards would be indefinitely delayed.

To the list of those not distinguishing themselves in this fight, add the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. “Superintendents feel like it is time to slow down and get the implementation of standards right,” Ascension Parish Superintendent Patrice Pujol said for the association.

Why slow down now? Superintendents have been involved in the Common Core process for years. Were the superintendents — not to mention, the governor — who find this a surprise paying no attention in 2010, when the state education board adopted Common Core?

Fortunately, there were enough members of the House committee who rightly questioned why, years after the process began, a last-minute political furor should slam on the brakes, when many schools are already adopting Common Core standards in their classrooms.

“We don’t need a committee and a subcommittee and another committee,” said Chas Roemer, of Baton Rouge, and president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE and state Superintendent of Education John White have staunchly backed higher standards for student success. Their independent stand is welcome.

We congratulate the majority on the education panel, led by Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, for upholding standards, even as the Governor’s Office went wobbly.

The legislative session has several months to run, and vigilance is required on this issue. But the rejection of HB381 is a good start.