Letter: Common Core crucial to state’s, students’ success

Several years ago, BESE raised the bar for Louisiana K-12 education by adopting the Common Core State Standards. These benchmarks in reading, writing and math align with the demands of 21st-century careers and higher education, and put our kids on a level playing field with those in other states.

Louisiana students rank 48th and 50th in reading and math, respectively. Meanwhile, the state’s economy is poised for significant growth.

Now, more than ever, our students need the expanded knowledge and improved skills to compete for opportunities here at home. Their readiness level greatly affects not just their future, but the future of Louisiana. I, along with educators, business leaders and parents across the state, believe Common Core provides the best educational foundation for today’s jobs and higher learning opportunities.

There is, however, considerable misunderstanding regarding Louisiana’s participation in Common Core. Some suggest we reverse course on implementing the higher standards and would have you believe Common Core is simply a federal conspiracy to take control of our children’s education. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I, and the board, would certainly oppose such an intrusion.

The federal government does not deserve credit for something that was accomplished through collective state action. Common Core State Standards are a set of clearer, higher and more consistent academic benchmarks designed by the states to increase academic performance and provide a meaningful way to compare that performance. There are no federal requirements regarding curriculum, what materials to use or how subjects should be taught — that is left to the states and the local school districts, putting the control where it should be. When the standards were being developed, input was solicited from educators, administrators and parents across the nation, including Louisiana.

BESE realizes that adapting to new standards and tests is a challenge. To that end, we have adopted policies to support local school districts and communities in the continuing transition, to ensure local control of curriculum development, to strengthen parental input and to protect student privacy.

Providing Louisiana students with a quality education is critical to their future success and the future of our state. A student’s educational experience shouldn’t be about just getting by to the next grade level. It should be about building the knowledge and skills to achieve whatever they aspire to.

If we are serious about raising the bar for education in Louisiana and truly preparing our children for challenges and opportunities ahead, then reversing course on higher standards and accountability shouldn’t be an option. The stakes are high, and the time to reaffirm our commitment to quality education is now.

Holly Boffy

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education