Board of Regents says Common Core stays

Advocate staff file photo by ADAM LAU -- Louisiana Board of Regents advised college and university leaders that Common Core standards would be included in teacher training. Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by ADAM LAU -- Louisiana Board of Regents advised college and university leaders that Common Core standards would be included in teacher training.

The Louisiana Board of Regents told college and university leaders Monday that teacher training should continue to include Common Core standards despite Gov. Bobby Jindal’s move last week to shelve the academic guidelines.

In a memo to teacher preparation deans and others, a top official of the Regents noted that Common Core has been adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education as Louisiana’s content standards.

“Thus, universities will continue to integrate the Louisiana content standards into their curriculum,” according to an email from Jeanne Burns, associate commissioner of Teacher and Leadership Initiatives.

“Failure to do so can result in universities losing BESE approval of graduates becoming certified to teach in Louisiana,” Burns wrote to higher education leaders.

Burns also said W. Clinton “Bubba” Rasberry Jr., chairman of the board, contacted all of the state’s public university chancellors and presidents on Friday “to make them aware that we would be sending the above statements to you.”

Jindal announced on Wednesday that he was taking a wide range of steps to get the state out of Common Core, which represents new academic goals in reading, writing and math.

However, there is disagreement on exactly what the impact of his announcement will be.

The governor says Common Core has too much federal influence, and he wants the state Department of Education to seek bids for new assessments that go with newly crafted standards.

State Superintendent of Education John White and BESE President Chas Roemer contend that the governor alone cannot order the state out of the tests, which are being developed by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Jindal’s critics also say he cannot remove the state from Common Core through a letter to leaders of the effort because the standards were endorsed by BESE in 2010 and again earlier this year.

Burns said that, since Jindal’s announcement, higher education officials have been fielding questions “seeking guidance” on the issue.

In her memo, she noted that BESE is the state agency that approves teacher preparation programs for the purpose of graduates getting certified in the state.

“Therefore, all Louisiana universities must comply with BESE policy for their teacher preparation programs to be approved to prepare new teachers to provide instruction in Louisiana,” Burns wrote.

Burns could not be reached for comment.

Rasberry said Monday that he had nothing to add beyond the message to school leaders. He said the issue may come up during a meeting of the Board of Regents on Wednesday.

Asked for comment on the Regents’ action, Jindal’s office issued a prepared statement Monday evening that said teachers, education leaders and parents should urge the state Department of Education “to follow state law” and issue a request for proposals to come up with new assessments. “DOE needs to do its job and issue an RFP,” according to the governor’s statement.

The message to college and university leaders is unusual because most of the Common Core debate has focused on public schools and its impact there.

However, teacher training in Louisiana has undergone huge changes in the past decade, and higher and lower education leaders have said for years that they need to work in concert.

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