Our Views: Quit leading from behind

So far, the Jindal administration has not lost any yardage on the ambitious plans to improve student achievement in Louisiana schools.

Neither is Team Jindal throwing any forward passes. In fact, under even a little bit of misplaced criticism, the quarterback is suddenly dodging and weaving in the backfield.

Come on, show a little leadership here.

The game plan for raising educational standards in Louisiana dates back years. The so-called Common Core educational standards were developed by the states.

Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core in 2010 and it is being phased in by teachers in classrooms and with new tests.

Many public charter schools are further along with using Common Core standards.

Yet an anti-Common Core agitation, begun by fringe conservative groups, has caught on in some quarters. The criticism appears to be based on mostly inchoate fears of some national bureaucrat telling teachers what to teach.

The opposition doesn’t have a message, unless it is that Louisiana’s standing of near last among the states in student achievement is something we should hang on to.

The quarterback still seems to feel pressure. So this is the kind of wishy-washy response we get from Gov. Bobby Jindal: “We share those concerns. We support rigor and high academic standards that help ensure Louisiana students are getting the best possible education. What we do not support is a national or federalized curriculum. We need Louisiana standards, not Washington, D.C., standards.”

Jindal knows that much of this is political dodging and weaving. The core is not a federalized curriculum, and he’s already heard that from authorities that he ought to listen to — from former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida among Republicans, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan among the Democrats. Louisiana’s former superintendent of education, Paul Pastorek of New Orleans, another Republican, was among the leaders in developing the core.

Jindal’s lack of backbone is surprising, also, because conservatives — including his early mentor, Gov. Mike Foster — have long been the team carrying the banner of higher academic standards.

It is those standards that are the core, although states, parishes and teachers will teach them in widely differing ways.

If the quarterback isn’t very reliable in this new season, we feel confident that BESE members and Education Superintendent John White will stick up for the Common Core standards.

Louisiana needs the higher Common Core standards more than most states.

And, governor, the education reform team needs a Zach Mettenberger on the issue of Common Core.