Groups urge Gov. Jindal to stick with Common Core

Governor vetoes education bill

More than three dozen business, education and civic groups Friday asked Gov. Bobby Jindal to allow Common Core plans to unfold in Louisiana.

The request came on the same day that Jindal vetoed one of the few Common Core bills — it would soften the impact of the overhaul — to emerge from the 2014 Legislature.

The plea from the groups comes one week after Jindal, in his strongest criticism to date, said he wants the state out of Common Core and the tests aligned to it.

“Collectively we were shocked by the governor’s recent statements that despite the very strong affirmation of Common Core by both the Legislature and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education coupled with widespread citizen support, he is now single-handedly ‘committed to getting us out of ... Common Core,’ ” the group said in a prepared statement. “We believe this action would constitute executive overreach that violates every aspect of the spirit of the democratic process. It would suggest that the state should be governed not by the bodies that constitutionally enact education laws and policies, but by the unilateral use of the executive pen.”

Asked for comment, Jindal said in a prepared statement Friday that he is “committed to getting out” of Common Core and the accompanying exams.

“I have real concerns about the federal government taking over our education standards,” the Jindal statement said. “We are very alarmed about choice and the ability to have control over local curriculum being taken away from parents and educators.”

The groups that endorsed the request to the governor include the Council for a Better Louisiana, Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans, Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and Stand for Children Louisiana.

Common Core represents new academic standards in reading, writing and math.

They are set to take full effect for the 2014-15 school year.

The changes were endorsed by the state’s top school board in 2010.

That support was reaffirmed by the same panel earlier this year.

If and when Jindal will act on the issue is unclear.

One option is for him to issue an executive order aimed at scrapping the tests that go with Common Core.

The exams are being developed by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.

However, state Superintendent of Education John White, who was Jindal’s pick for the job, contends that it would take the approval of Jindal, White and Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, to drop test plans.

White and Roemer both oppose such a move.

Jindal said in his statement that “we are looking at several options to get out of PARCC and Common Core, and we are working through those now. We are going to get this right.”

The bill that the governor vetoed would give students, teachers and schools an extra year to prepare for the new academic standards.

A two-year moratorium is already in place, including the 2014-15 school year.

The bill, by state Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, would add the 2015-16 school year.

In his veto message, Jindal noted that the measure sparked criticism from both sides of the Common Core debate.

Business groups and others who back the standards opposed the proposal because it would add another delay to controversial teacher evaluations and yearly information about public schools.

Jindal said Common Core critics saw the legislation as “enshrining Louisiana’s participation in Common Core and PARCC.”

The governor said the bill “would significantly impair parents’ ability to have clear information about the performance of their child’s school and teachers’ ability to have meaningful feedback.”

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.the advocate.com/politicsblog/.