Our Views: The games of summer

If there were a gameday program for Common Core, it would have to be thicker than the programs for college football games.

Look at the all the conflict now over what used to be a politically unremarkable decision, aimed at raising academic standards through research and study by a consortium of educators and state officials.

Now, it’s a political brawl being waged on many fronts and it takes a program to keep up with the players and the game.

A group of 17 legislators, foiled in their efforts to block Common Core during the just-concluded session of the Legislature, filed a lawsuit against the core’s backers, Superintendent of Education John White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The legislators say the board acted improperly because it did not follow the Administrative Procedures Act. The lawsuit focuses on details of how BESE adopted the standards in 2010. The board and White say state law requires no such thing, and the standards were adopted as previous ones were.

That shows how much of a late-blooming controversy this is. In 2010, this was not controversial, and in fact Gov. Bobby Jindal was then strongly in favor.

To quote Randy Newman, what has happened down here is the winds have changed. Jindal is now an opponent of Common Core.

His separate line of attack is an executive order and numerous letters to question how the tests aligned with core standards will be purchased and implemented by the Department of Education.

The winds have changed in another way, in that there is yet another lawsuit, by backers of Common Core, challenging Jindal’s actions. Among its plaintiffs is at least one group, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, often aligned with Jindal in recent years’ battles over major education issues. Nothing personal, the group said, but BESE has the constitutional authority over education.

BESE voted 6-4 Wednesday to join the lawsuit against the governor, and he has now responded with an intervention in the same lawsuit challenging the legality of the agreement between the state and the testing consortium that BESE planned to use for tests aligned to Common Core standards.

So if one is keeping a scorecard, that’s two lawsuits, an executive order directly from the governor, and numerous letters and memos flying between the governor’s Division of Administration and the education department.

Add to that a statement from one of Jindal’s appointees on BESE, Jane Smith, who said “folks” are looking into ethics rules regarding travel reimbursements — not even a thinly veiled shot at White, who has been invited to speak at national meetings on education policy.

There was a time when Louisiana would be proud to have a superintendent thought to be an expert in a national debate. But if Smith’s comments are vague, should something come of them it would be a yet another fight in this bare-knuckled brawl; White says all his travel has been properly documented and accords with the ethics codes, but a complaint is likely, although it may not be found to have merit.

Over all this is the fundamental question: Are we in favor of higher standards or not? The governor says he is.

We see the attacks on procedures and processes as attempts to change the rules of the Common Core game at halftime, because its supporters are up by several touchdowns.

And even if you bought a program, that would make the game confusing.