BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday that his legislative proposal to remove Common Core from state public schools would return Louisiana to its old education standards and testing until new benchmarks are developed.
The Republican governor outlined the broad parameters of bills he'll push to stop Louisiana from using the multistate standards and the associated testing, saying removal of Common Core will be one of his top legislative priorities.
The proposals will be considered in the legislative session that begins April 13. The issue is certain to be contentious. Lawmakers refused to jettison Common Core from public school classrooms last year, but Jindal said he's confident growing opposition to the standards could change some legislative minds this year.
The Common Core standards are benchmarks of what students should learn at each grade level in English and math. They've been adopted by more than 40 states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. Opponents say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education.
"What sounded like a great idea, voluntary state-led high standards — it's a great concept. Unfortunately, that's not what Common Core has become," Jindal said.
Jindal wants to establish a new process for developing Louisiana's education standards. Under his proposal, the state's public schools would use grade-level expectations developed 10 years ago and the LEAP and iLEAP standardized testing associated with them.
Those would stay in place until new standards are approved, through a new process that would require the backing of lawmakers, rather than the current process of the education board setting the standards on its own.
Superintendent of Education John White and Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, slammed the governor's proposal as misguided and politically driven. Jindal is considering a 2016 presidential campaign.
White said Louisiana educators have spent five years shifting to the Common Core standards, and he said Jindal's plan would upend years of curriculum changes and teacher training. He said the state education board is moving ahead with a plan to review the multistate standards and testing to determine if adjustments are needed.
Jindal's plan "literally takes us back in time, and Louisiana more than any other state needs to be pushing forward," Roemer said. "This plan laid out by the governor is a disgrace, and it's a political one."
The governor's announcement about his legislative proposals comes the same week that more than 300,000 third-graders through eighth-graders, including Jindal's three children, are taking standardized tests aligned with Common Core.
In addition to revamping the standards, Jindal also proposes to put new limitations on the contracting authority of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, to keep it from entering into the types of contracts it has used for the Common Core tests.
Jindal's current approach is a more direct attack than last year, when the administration was largely absent from the legislative debate over Common Core. Whether the governor's involvement changes the outcome remains unclear.
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