Live blog Wednesday: Key committee considers bill to derail Common Core

Efforts to weaken or kill the controversial Common Core education standards in Louisiana will get their hearing in the state Legislature on Wednesday morning.

The House Education Committee will consider HB 381, which would derail Common Core. It is sponsored by state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, and state Rep. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs.

I’ll live-blog the meeting, which starts at 9 a.m., below. Committee Chairman Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said it might last until the House goes into session at 2 p.m.

The proceedings also will be live-streamed.

Common Core is a set of national standards developed by educators throughout the country. Louisiana is one of 45 states that has adopted Common Core, which would raise standards in reading and math.

The Geymann/Pope bill would create a 30-member commission to analyze changes to Common Core. Those standards would be set aside while the study commission carried out its work.

The two lawmakers say that Common Core infringes on local control of education and imposes out-of-state standards on Louisiana. They have been trying to craft a bill that can win a majority on the committee.

The effort to derail Common Core gained strength last week when Patrice Pujol, the schools superintendent of Ascension Parish and the president of the state superintendents’ association, wrote that she was working with Geymann and Pope “to influence a bill that we can all support.” Pujol has been a strong Common Core supporter.

In the wake of Pujol’s letter, two key Democrats said Tuesday that they are likely to support a “compromise” measure that keeps Common Core’s standards but establishes the study commission and delays implementation of the tougher assessment test, called PARCC. Those Democrats are state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite, who heads the House Democratic Caucus, and state Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe, who heads the Legislative Black Caucus.

“There’s an overwhelming voice that superintendents and teachers support the [Common Core] standards but need a clear curriculum,” Jackson said. “We have to have standards in Louisiana.”

Chas Roemer is the president of the Board of Secondary and Elementary Education, which oversees the state’s K-12 public schools. He strongly opposes the Geymann/Rogers bill and Pujol’s efforts to craft another version of it.

Their bill “kills all the reform we’ve been working on for the past four years,” Roemer said. “If you want to kill something in Louisiana, you form a committee to study it.”

Roemer noted that no schools or teachers will be penalized for lower standardized test scores during the next two years, under a plan approved by BESE last year to address concerns about the impact of the more rigorous test.

On Monday, 27 civic groups and trade associations — led by Council for a Better Louisiana, Louisiana Business and Industry, and Stand for Children Louisiana — said they strongly oppose any efforts to weaken Common Core. These groups believe that Louisiana will have trouble competing with other states for good jobs if the state doesn’t raise its education standards.

Live blog

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About Tyler Bridges

Tyler Bridges covers Louisiana politics and public policy for The Lens. He returned to New Orleans in 2012 after spending the previous year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, where he studied digital journalism. Prior to that, he spent 13 years as a reporter for the Miami Herald, where he was twice a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning teams while covering state government, the city of Miami and national politics. He also was a foreign correspondent based in South America. Before the Herald, he covered politics for seven years at The Times-Picayune. He is the author of The Rise of David Duke (1994) and Bad Bet on the Bayou: The Rise of Gambling in Louisiana and the Fall of Governor Edwin Edwards (2001). He can be reached at (504) 810-6222.

  • concerned

    Part of Scott Richard’s testimony before the committee: “Change will not be a major cost to school districts. Local decision-making and local standards in keeping with Common Core. Says it’s a teacher-friendly bill.” Here is the clarity behind Scott’s illusions. Any mandate, whether it be Common Core or otherwise, is UNFUNDED. That’s why new standards are not major expense items, because no money is provided to purchase resources for this “teacher friendly bill.” Second, with token support from the local school board and even less from the state, teachers are now forced to search for resources they can’t pay for. Oh, and when do teachers search for these resources? During their one hour planning period? That’s the reality dumped on teachers who then are evaluated by students scores based on a teacher’s ability to educate students with scarce resources the teacher cannot buy anyway. This is insanity. For example, no books are currently available for curriculum guidance for Common Core implementation. Experts remind teachers that that is the point, no books. Okay, search the internet for Common Core or another such stuff for resources that you the teacher can used daily in a lesson plan the teacher has one hour a day to create, along with the other mind boggling items the state and local school boards are dumping on the teacher.

    The bottom line is, when this whole effort fails miserably, the next step will be wholesale privatization of education in Louisiana and across the nation. The formula is well known. Starve a government agency, and then when the agency can’t perform because of lack of funding, wise men say, “You see, government doesn’t work. Only the private, corporate citizen can save the day.”