Republican Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal promised this week that his state will drop the national education standards known as the Common Core State Standards, but The New York Times reports that other state lawmakers plan to fight his decision.
The controversial Common Core standards, enacted in 2009, set common maths and English standards for K-12 in most U.S. states. Some parents and teachers have attacked the standards for creating a one-size-fits-all education model that doesn’t always benefit students.
Louisiana had been developing Common Core-aligned tests with a group of states called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), but now Jindal intends to cut ties with that group.
Jindal — who may be considering a run for president — criticised the Common Core as a federal infringement on states’ rights to have local say over education.
“The federal government would like to assert control of our educational system and rush implementation of a one-size-fits-all set of standards that raises a lot of serious concerns,” Jindal said at a Wednesday news conference, according to The Times. “We’re very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from our parents and from our educators.”
The governor denounced the standards as a violation of the 10th Amendment, which defines the powers of the federal and state governments. “If other states want to give up their 10th Amendment rights, that’s fine. We’re not doing that in Louisiana,” Jindal said.
Louisiana’s state legislature and education officials remain strong supporters of the Common Core, demonstrated when lawmakers voted overwhelmingly this year in favour of national standards, The Times reported. Now state education leaders are accusing Jindal of going behind their backs.
The president of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer, says Jindal’s efforts are politically motivated, calling his announcement “a political manoeuvre because of his politics that are national in scope and are focused on a very particular portion of the vote in this country.” Roemer and the state’s superintendent of schools declared that Louisiana will keep Common Core and continue working with the PARCC testing group because the governor doesn’t have authority to impose the changes.
Initially, 45 states including Louisiana adopted the Common Core. Alaska, Texas, Nebraska, and Virginia never adopted them, while Minnesota only adopted them for English, according to NPR. But many conservative groups are concerned it means greater federal interference in education, while the nation’s largest teachers’ union has protested the way the standards have been implemented.
The Common Core standards were developed by the nation’s governors and education commissioners through the organisations Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices. The federal government wasn’t directly involved in that process, although it has supported the standards with some funding, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Three states have since dropped the Common Core, most recently South Carolina in May and Oklahoma this month.
But unlike in those states where the governors had the approval of their state legislatures, Jindal is acting alone in his announcement. The Times points out that his decision has set the stage for a possible legal challenge from other state officials.
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