Letter: Washington politics in Louisiana

Whether you favor or oppose Common Core, we should be able to agree on two things: we don’t need Washington telling us how to educate our kids and we don’t need to inject D.C. style political games here in Louisiana.

Even for those who believe Common Core is not right for Louisiana, our children and teachers should not be used as pawns in the political chess match that is now unfolding.

I have questioned the governor’s recent role in this saga for several reasons. First, it comes with only a few weeks left before school starts creating an uncertainty as to which tests, if any, will be used to assess student progress. Secondly, the governor was silent during the legislative debate, not making known his intent to scuttle several years of planning for the new testing procedure. Thirdly, the Legislature debated the issue at length and decided not to jettison the standards.

In fact, in a spirit of compromise, the Legislature voted to delay using standards to assess teachers, only to face gubernatorial veto. Finally, the administration only recently raised questions about compliance with the state procurement code, only as a seeming last resort and way to blame his handpicked superintendent.

Attempting to skirt legislative will with an executive order is wrong when the President does it and it is wrong when the governor does it.

I agree with Gov. Jindal that Louisiana should establish its own standards and tests in Louisiana. But we should do so through the proper legal framework including parents, teachers, the Legislature and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

We can continue to debate the merits and the demerits of Common Core, but three weeks before school starts is not the time to start using political games to change the course of the Louisiana education system.

Given Louisiana’s natural resources, our port system and business-friendly environment, unprecedented economic opportunities await us. We must make certain that we have an educated workforce ready to step into the jobs that will be created. Put simply, we’ve got to be able to compete and we owe it to the next generation to measure performance in a consistent manner.

In the acronym-laden world of education, let me propose one more, ARISE: Accountability, Rigor, Independence, Standards and Excellence in Education. This is what should guide the ongoing debate, not what something is called but what something strives to do. We should not create uncertainty and confusion immediately before the school year begins. This only harms those we are trying to nurture and those we need to do so: the students and teachers of Louisiana.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne

Baton Rouge