On Oct. 15, 2013, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) invited feedback from the public regarding the national Common Core standards that are currently being implemented across the state. As a BESE member, I requested that BESE discuss the standards based on numerous concerns expressed by parents across Louisiana — concerns about the rigor of the standards, the negative effects the standards were having on our students, student privacy, the role of special interest groups outside of Louisiana in shaping the standards, lack of training on the new standards for teachers and poor implementation planning by the Louisiana Department of Education. Citizens came to the meeting and spoke about the pros and cons of the Common Core standards, expressing their convictions to their government.
The citizens who voiced their concerns about Common Core clearly affected BESE, which had previously acted with a heartless disregard to the impact Common Core was having on Louisiana’s children. Less than 24 hours later, without any public input or scrutiny, with little time for review from elected BESE members, BESE voted on new policies to shift responsibility to the local school districts to pick materials for Common Core.
Common Core remains in place. Student data sharing remains in place. The questions and concerns about classroom readiness and the special interests and the rigor of the standards remain. It was great that BESE responded to the people’s concerns, but it was a very ineffectual response.
Regardless of our thoughts on the Common Core, it is clear that we all want academic rigor for our students. We should also demand rigorous accountability of our elected leaders. We should demand that new policies be passed in a thoughtful manner, with input from the public, not as a flimsy distraction from legitimate public outcry.
Lottie P. Beebe
member, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education