This letter is in response to a recent Advocate article titled, “Jindal joins forces with foes to fight Common Core.” On April 2, Rep. Geymann’s HB381 failed by a vote of 12-7 in the House Ed. Committee. After extensive questioning and careful consideration, Geymann’s bill was deemed unworthy of consideration by the full House.
The Common Core State Standards were constructed by U.S. educators, four from Louisiana, who pulled from the best state standards. A publicly elected BESE approved the CCSS four years ago. Since then, teachers have begun implementing those standards which emphasize critical thinking and problem solving skills rather than memorization. In just a short time, positive results have been noticed by math and English teachers in terms of students being able to analyze, synthesize and evaluate subject content at higher levels than before.
The shift towards higher standards hasn’t been without struggle. It’s more difficult to teach critical thinking skills than memorization. However, effective teachers have risen to the challenge. In a recent survey, 70 percent of participating Calcasieu math and English teachers noted they were in favor of keeping the CCSS as they are or with minor modifications. In most responses, minor modifications simply meant more training and resources, not a revision of the standards themselves. There’s no need to waste taxpayer dollars by creating more bureaucracy as in Geymann’s suggested commission. Why fight against high quality standards that teachers support by an overwhelming majority?
Contrary to Geymann’s statements, we have not lost control of education. Curriculum decisions such as which books are used in classrooms have been and will continue to be made at local levels. Invoking scare tactics of a federal takeover of education is irresponsible.
Teachers need to be confident that political games won’t derail the planning and work that has been in progress for several years. LEAP testing just finished and teachers are working on next year’s lessons. Continued politics impedes their ability to plan for their students next year. We need our leaders to be clear and unified. It’s time to remove politics from the classroom.