Our Views: One delay is enough

Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK  State Education Superintendent John White announces 2013 ACT results on Wednesday, at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.
Advocate staff photo by ARTHUR D. LAUCK State Education Superintendent John White announces 2013 ACT results on Wednesday, at the Claiborne Building in Baton Rouge.

It is easy to lose track of time, but it’s a dangerous defect in legislating.

That is why we regret the inability to remember very recent history on display at the State Capitol, as left and right team up to oppose accountability for public education.

Let’s review for the more chronologically challenged state legislators, school board members and teacher union lobbyists.

For years, the states, including Louisiana, have met on the challenges of raising academic standards in schools, and few in public education could have been unaware of that. Even fewer could have been unaware of the decision of most of the states to adopt the Common Core standards, new expectations for academic success in schools.

In 2010, the new standards were adopted in Louisiana by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. No surprise, as then-Superintendent Paul Pastorek was a leading voice in the nation on this issue.

Many school systems, public and private, took this decision seriously and started the work of preparing for Common Core; the state, no secret either, joined in a consortium to develop tests aligned with the new standards.

Suddenly, though, in some political circles it’s a surprise that new standards are in place. That is why a new anti-accountability bill by Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, is getting some traction in the House.

The Leger bill would delay any accountability penalties for a three-year phase-in of Common Core standards and tests. The bill passed the House Education Committee 10-6, allying those of left and right who are critical of higher standards.

Is this so bad? After all, BESE and current Superintendent John White, recognizing the political problems, already propose a two-year delay.

The problem is, once again, chronology.

The BESE delay, and Leger’s even longer delay, rewards those systems who either neglected or ignored the challenges of Common Core for years since the 2010 adoption of the standards.

The foundation of state education reform since the administration of Gov. Mike Foster is accountability for measurable student progress in the classroom. Yet we’ve seen before that the pressure for higher standards is always resisted, for one reason or another.

Remarkably, Foster’s protégé — Gov. Bobby Jindal — is among those weaseling out of support for Common Core.

We were willing to accept a two-year suspension of the acceptability penalties, worked out by White and BESE. But if the issue is chronology and politics, how much time is required for systems and schools to do what they knew they had to do in 2010?

And once the Leger bill stretches a two-year delay into a three-year delay, how much pressure will there be for making that the norm, instead of the exception?