Gov. Bobby Jindal won’t be pinned down about Common Core

Advocate file photo by Mark Ballard -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks in March with reporters during a press conference in his State Capitol office. Show caption
Advocate file photo by Mark Ballard -- Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks in March with reporters during a press conference in his State Capitol office.

On a day Gov. Bobby Jindal was criticized for not taking a detailed position on Common Core, the governor said he would make his thoughts known as he worked through the issues with individual sponsors of bills that would revamp the standards for public school students to achieve.

“We will look at those bills (and that’s when) we will offer our detailed thoughts,” Jindal said Thursday while answering media questions in his office. “We’re having good constructive conservations with them, but it’s early. … In general, we think we should have strong standards as a state. We don’t think we should be going backwards on standards.”

Louisiana’s education board agreed more than three years ago to phase into public schools the grade-by-grade benchmarks of what students should learn in reading, writing and math.

The standards, adopted by 45 states, are considered one of the top issues of the 2014 legislative session, including testing plans.

Jindal’s stance is considered a key to how the issue will fare during the legislative session. The measures either tweak portions of Common Core or get rid of it completely.

Jindal has expressed mixed views about Common Core, saying he was “concerned” about the standards that are being widely attacked by some parents in suburban communities and strongly supported by the business community.

“It would be helpful to know specifically what those concerns are,” the Council for A Better Louisiana said in a statement released by its president, Barry Erwin. CABL is a Baton Rouge group that lobbies government policies.

“Unfortunately, not knowing has opened the door to legislators introducing a wide array of bills that would gut the standards, delay their implementation and require us to develop new standards and new tests at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to the state,” the CABL statement said.

Jindal said he understands and shares the concerns parents have voiced on federal intervention in curriculum, which traditionally has been the purview of state and local authorities. Other concerns are that there aren’t adequate protections for student data and the “one-size-fits-all” approach to testing for standards.

“Where we do draw a red line,” Jindal said, “we would absolutely oppose any attempts to undo the reforms that we fought so hard to implement,” such as letter grades to assess the quality of individual schools, Jindal said.