Letter: Bid process must be open

Members of the Louisiana Association of Educators believe that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s recent executive order has taken the necessary steps to ensure that state Superintendent of Education John White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education follow a transparent, competitive procurement process when obtaining academic assessments for Louisiana students. Several reports have indicated that White ignored state law when he used a “no-bid” contract to commit Louisiana to using the PARCC assessment. LAE, like the governor, believes that if BESE and the La. Department of Education, or LaDOE, committed to purchasing PARCC before the product was fully developed and incorporated this undeveloped product into the state’s school accountability and teacher evaluation systems without considering other, more reliable products, then the responsible party should face the consequences of these actions. The LaDOE must follow state law in procuring any service paid for with taxpayer dollars; the department must be equally accountable in the expenditure of those dollars. Local education agencies must continue with careful monitoring of the money spent on state-mandated costs relative to PARCC and Common Core.

Moving forward, it is crucial that LaDOE leaders thoroughly examine and select a high-quality, cost-effective, state-based system of assessment for all public and charter schools. Regardless of feelings surrounding the Common Core State Standards and aligned-assessments, we need to make sure that our focus remains on what’s best for Louisiana’s school children.

The state now has a chance to get this right. LAE believes rigorous standards stand to serve as a road map to greater educational achievement. To ensure real buy-in from classroom educators, the LaDOE must engage professional school staff as active partners in the development of standards-aligned curricula and tests. It is important that all public education stakeholders are involved in the vetting and/or creation of Louisiana’s public education standards, as well as in the implementation of aligned-curricula and tests.

Debbie Meaux

president, Louisiana Association of Educators

Baton Rouge