Letter: Common Core tests unnecessary

I haven’t written about educational topics for a spell. I have already written extensively about Common Core, COMPASS and PARCC testing, wondering if it would ever make a difference.

I’m unsure if I did, but the governor made a splash. After weeks of increasingly passionate speeches, Bobby Jindal made an executive order pulling Louisiana out of Common Core and PARCC testing.

He cited many things: federal intrusion in a state matter; the lack of competitive bidding for PARCC tests; the frustration of teachers who were inadequately prepared; and the advance of the Common Core timetable forced upon districts this past year. The most important factor, however, was the overwhelming anger of parents, whose myriad of issues are too many to cover here.

Superintendent of Education John White and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Romero have decried the governor’s decision and have vowed to fight it. I will sarcastically note that every governor looks forward to being told what he can and cannot do by an appointee who would not even have his job if it weren’t for the governor. White had minimal qualifications and lacked experience, and, so far, his actions in office have reaffirmed my lack of confidence in his abilities.

White and others have said it would take the Department of Education a whole year to develop a new test to replace PARCC.

What foolishness. We already possess diagnostic tools called LEAP, iLEAP and End of Course Testing. To evaluate schools, the state Department of Education has already forced every junior to take the ACT. These tests have been tinkered with and refitted for years, so claiming that we need a new test is simply balderdash.

I think the most professional response came from St. Martin Parish Superintendent Lottie Beebe, who said the following, “We stand tall as leaders and we comply with the governor’s executive order — educators need to be at the table when education decisions are made.”

She cut to the heart of my complaint about Common Core: It was developed by non-educators — i.e., test makers — with little or no input from teachers, principals, parents or experts in child development. It was funded by billionaires like Bill Gates, whose interest is not the welfare of children, and assiduously supported by organizations (CABL, LABI, ALEC, Chamber of Commerce) whose educational expertise is suspect at best.

How can someone support an educational experiment using our children as guinea pigs with little or no guarantee of success?

Dan Juneau recently called the governor’s actions shameful. The only shameful thing would be to let this farce continue. Jindal signed us into Common Core in 2010. It takes a brave man to recognize an error. It takes an even greater one to try to rectify it.

Vincent Barras

teacher

Lafayette