Senate to have say on Common Core standards
BATON ROUGE, La. — A tea party-backed attempt to keep Louisiana from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing will be considered by the state Senate.
The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday advanced a resolution that calls on state education officials to stop implementation of the Common Core standards, which have been adopted in 45 states and are being phased into Louisiana schools.
Following the nearly three-hour meeting before a standing-room-only crowd, the committee didn’t back the legislation, instead choosing to forward it to the full Senate without action. The move keeps the resolution alive, without a committee endorsement.
The standards, created by committees of education officials from dozens of states, are a grade-by-grade rubric of skills and knowledge that students should acquire in core subject areas, such as math and English. They are being incorporated into the standardized tests given each spring to Louisiana’s public school students.
Resolution sponsor Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, and other opponents, said that by adopting the national standards and testing to them, Louisiana is abdicating local control of its curriculum to the federal government.
Laura O’Halloran, with a right-leaning group called the Louisiana Power Coalition, said state officials had no idea when the standards were adopted what they were agreeing to give up. This “usurps” the state’s sovereignty, she said.
“Not just Louisiana, but America’s as well,” she said.
In addition, backers of the resolution said they were concerned about the way student information would be collected and used by the U.S. Department of Education. They feared the information would not be secure and could lead to privacy issues.
Many of those who supported Crowe’s resolution were affiliated with local tea party groups. They repeatedly characterized Common Core as “federalized government” and the “nationalization of education.”
Proponents of the standards, including state Superintendent of Education John White, said the nationally aligned standards will raise student achievement and will allow Louisiana to compare its students’ academic progress to other states.
They are standards, not a curriculum, White said.
“They are a set of very basic descriptions of what students should be able to achieve to be successful beyond high school,” he said.
Amy Deslattes, a New Iberia high school teacher who piloted the English standards, said she saw tremendous growth in her 12th-grade students. The students were writing on a “college-level” and wouldn’t need remediation, she said.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted the new standards in 2010, and they will be fully phased into Louisiana’s curriculum and testing by the 2014-15 school year.
White said BESE will have a meeting in June at which student data collection will be discussed.
Crowe said he felt “slighted” that the Legislature did not have any input in the decision. He said he brought the resolution so opponents could air their concerns.
By LITTICE BACON-BLOOD