Roemer: Jindal created 'fiasco' in standards fight
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The leader of Louisiana's state school board offered a full-throated defense Monday of the Common Core education standards, saying they call for a higher level of accountability for public school students and vowing to keep the standards in classrooms.
Chas Roemer, president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the multi-state English and math standards will allow Louisiana to compete globally and compare student performance across states. Common Core has been adopted by more than 40 states.
Roemer accused GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal of creating a "fiasco" by taking steps against Common Core that have stalled standardized testing plans for third-grade through eighth-grade as the new school year begins.
"It is a fiasco caused by one person. It sends gridlock to our classrooms, mixed messages to our teachers, mixed messages to our students, mixed messages to the rest of the country," Roemer, a Republican, told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Jindal has suspended testing contracts to keep the state from using Common Core-tied testing material. The governor once supported the multi-state standards, but now opposes them as an Obama administration effort to federalize education.
Roemer said Jindal's actions were designed to bolster the governor's likely 2016 presidential campaign, rather than to improve education in Louisiana's classrooms.
"We need leadership that spends less time on politics and more time worried about our people and our kids. We need leadership not concerned about their own future, but concerned about the future of our state," he said.
The governor was in Texas surveying the nation's border with Mexico as Roemer gave his speech.
A majority of members of the state education board, known as BESE, support Common Core, along with Education Superintendent John White. State lawmakers also refused to end Louisiana's use of the standards earlier this year. BESE has joined a lawsuit accusing Jindal of violating the Louisiana Constitution in his actions against Common Core.
When he suspended the testing contracts, Jindal accused BESE and the education department of not following state procurement law and said they needed to seek competitive bids for the contract. But he also said the action was designed to undermine Common Core.
"Chas and John White should follow the law and issue (a request for competitive bid proposals)." There's no excuse for the delay tactics. The law is the law," Jindal said in a statement issued Monday in response to Roemer's speech.
Roemer said Louisiana's economic growth will be stifled without improvement to the state's education quality and an ability to show strong performance against other states.
"If we send the message to the world that we're not prepared to educate their kids and we're not prepared to educate our workers, they will not come. You can give them all the tax breaks you want to give them," he said.