Letter: La. students, educators need Common Core

When the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the Common Core state standards in July 2010, Gov. Bobby Jindal stood with Superintendent Paul Pastorek and championed these standards. Teachers knew he had their backs in this challenging endeavor. Superintendent White was appointed by BESE a little more than two years ago and began the construction of a plan to prepare Louisiana teachers with information and training on these standards.

Those who oppose Common Core because it is perceived to be a nationalized model that infringes on local control couldn’t be more wrong. Common Core started with the states, has vast bipartisan support from governors of both parties and has the support of credible conservatives such as Jeb Bush and Bill Bennett.

Common Core standards actually spell out what math and reading skills students should have in each grade and are designed to help students think and reason more than they do with traditional classroom work. In the words of Gov. Bush, I think it’s time we take a real-world, grown-up approach to a crisis that has been mired in politics.

PARCC is a common assessment tool developed collaboratively by educators from across the nation to measure student progress on the core standards in English language arts and mathematics. However, fewer than 20 states have signed up to use the PARCC assessments — certainly not a national test. If Louisiana were to delay the use of PARCC, costs could rise to the millions of dollars. Without PARCC, would Louisiana be forced to go back to the tests of the past?

As an educator for more than 40 years, I find the Common Core state standards to be the best organized, in-depth, clear and concise standards available in this country. Sadly, Louisiana is grappling with political backlash that has become quite harmful to our teachers and students.

We are ready for Common Core because educators have worked tirelessly these past four years to learn and implement these standards. We need Common Core because our students deserve to be held to higher expectations. We pray the Legislature and governor will stay the course with Common Core. A state that has been ranked 48th in the country in student achievement needs a governor and Legislature that supports the efforts of our hard-working educators. We are committed to moving forward with the biggest education reform initiative of our generation.

Judy Vail