Bobby Jindal’s plan to ditch Common Core would take Louisiana backward: Editorial

It’s hard to tell whether Gov. Bobby Jindal really thinks he has a shot at derailing Common Core academic standards in Louisiana — or if he just wants to look like he’s doing something. The governor wanted legislators last year to ditch the higher academic standards adopted by most states since 2010. They didn’t.

He then pressured the state Board of Elementary Secondary Education and schools Superintendent John White to get rid of Common Core and the new test tied to the standards. They wouldn’t.

Now he is back to the Legislature.

The governor announced Wednesday that he will back three bills that would banish Common Core State Standards from Louisiana. His plan is for the state to start over and come up with standards for use only here. Meanwhile, schools would go back to the state’s 2004-2005 standards and give students the LEAP and iLEAP tests.

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, a Lake Charles Republican, was unimpressed with that idea. “I would find it very difficult to support anything that would have us go back,” he said. No legislator should.

Not only does Gov. Jindal want to move backward, he signaled Wednesday that he wants to cut the House and Senate Education Committees out of the loop on his legislation.

Both education committees killed anti-Common Core legislation last year, so it is no wonder he wants to skip them. But, the thing is, these committees are where legislation dealing with education belongs.

These are the lawmakers who are charged with vetting those issues and who know the most about them.

Sen. Conrad Appel, a Metairie Republican who supports Common Core, doesn’t believe lawmakers will let the governor kill the standards — even if the education committees are bypassed. “We can deal with it on the floor. I don’t care,” said Sen. Appel, who is chairman of the Senate education committee.

Sen. Appel surely doesn’t want his committee’s authority to be usurped. But he is confident in the strength of his position.

The fact that Gov. Jindal wants to circumvent the education committees shows that he isn’t. If the bills he is backing are such a good idea, why couldn’t he persuade committee members to vote for them?

That’s the thing. The governor can’t argue the merits of his position.

He continued Wednesday to claim that Common Core standards are a plot by the federal government to take over Louisiana schools. They aren’t, and he knows it.

The push to come up with standards and testing that could be applied to students in different states came from the National Governors Association. The group was concerned that students weren’t learning what they needed to know to handle higher education or jobs successfully.

Gov. Jindal was all for that in 2010, when he agreed for Louisiana to participate. But as opposition among national conservative groups grew in the past year or two, he reversed himself.

Despite his efforts to derail Common Core, though, tens of thousands of Louisiana students are taking the new PARCC test this week. A small fraction of parents statewide held their children out of the testing.

BESE has delayed any consequences from the new test until after the 2016 school year. The board also moved up the evaluation of the new standards to this year instead of next. Those are reasonable steps to ensure that everything is on track.

The most unfortunate thing about Gov. Jindal’s political posturing is that he is ignoring the hard work Louisiana teachers and school leaders put into developing Common Core and the PARCC test. It wasn’t the federal government that came up with test questions and classwork for students.

BESE President Chas Roemer lambasted the governor’s latest move. “It is so clear that he is only concerned about one thing, and that is his own politics,” Mr. Roemer said. “This plan literally takes us back in time.”

Yes, and legislators shouldn’t fall for that.