On Aug. 4, Chas Roemer, the president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, blamed Louisiana’s poor education ranking (fourth-worst in the nation according to the 2014 national WalletHub.com rankings for the “Best and Worst School Systems”) on “low expectations”; he also blamed Gov. Bobby Jindal’s opposition to Common Core (at odds with Roemer’s and the majority of BESE’s support of Common Core) for creating an educational “fiasco” in Louisiana. Roemer was quoted as saying, “We need leadership that spends less time on politics and more time on kids.”
Roemer is correct that Louisiana needs educational leaders who put the education of our children above politics. Unfortunately, Roemer’s “fiasco” statement is an example of the kind of political posturing that he denounces. Roemer’s comments do not address Louisiana’s specific failings in the WalletHub national ranking.
Louisiana was ranked 48th in the nation for its math and reading test scores. Louisiana had the highest percentage of children who repeated one or more grades. Louisiana tied with Washington, D.C., for having the least safe schools. These are serious, systemic failings that deserve sober assessment and solutions.
Instead, Roemer shuns his and BESE’s responsibility to address these low rankings, putting the blame on Gov. Jindal and suggesting that Common Core will address Louisiana’s educational problems, with absolutely no evidence to support this assertion. Roemer would be hard-pressed to provide such evidence, as Common Core standards are new, controversial standards that lack the statistical data needed to prove the standards’ merit in promoting student achievement.
Louisiana’s education challenges are not new and predate the recent controversies over Common Core. The Common Core standards are new, untested and unproven; any claims made that these standards will improve Louisiana’s schools cannot be supported with data or evidence.
Political rhetoric and an unfounded faith in new standards will not address our education challenges. Instead, we need education leaders who will work with parents, teachers and civic leaders to develop education solutions that work and have a consensus in the community.
Lottie P. Beebe
BESE member, District 3