Tougher classroom standards win support

Despite criticism from some Republicans, the state should push ahead with plans to toughen public school classroom standards, the Council for a Better Louisiana said in a report issued on Thursday.

The new standards, which take full effect for the 2014-15 school year, are called Common Core and are aimed at better preparing students for college and careers.

CABL, which is a nonprofit group that lobbies on education and other issues, said the changes have become hot topics on political blogs.

It said most of the criticism comes from “conservative, Republican circles” that view the standards as the first wave of federal control over public education.

“It doesn’t,” the report stated.

“The idea was originated by the states, developed by the states and the states maintain absolute control over their standards,” it continued.

“These standards are good for students, they’re more rigorous than our current standards and they will do a better job of helping prepare our citizens for college or a career,” the study added.

The review follows comments by Gov. Bobby Jindal earlier this month that he would oppose any bid by federal officials to impose a school curriculum on local schools.

Jindal also said the issue is one for the state’s top school board, which endorsed the changes in 2010.

More than 40 states have signed on for the new standards.

Earlier this year legislation aimed at removing Louisiana from the effort died in the state Senate.

CABL said the concerns “run the gamut from legitimate to alarmist to absurd.

“Particularly in conservative political circles, Common Core is arousing feisty, sometimes name-calling debates that are becoming a distraction to efforts for serious education reform,” according to the report.

CABL said the changes have come under fire from the Republican National Committee and “conservative think tanks,” including the Heritage Foundation.

It said GOP backers include former Govs. Jeb Bush, of Florida; Mitch Daniels, of Indiana; and Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas.