Sept. 24, 2013 05:10

A Jefferson Parish lawmaker urged Gov. Bobby Jindal to stop the state from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing, called the Common Core.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A Jefferson Parish lawmaker urged Gov. Bobby Jindal to stop the state from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing, called the Common Core.

"What began as a plan to develop standards that states could adopt voluntarily has now become a tool of federal coercion," Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, said in a letter he released Monday.

In his letter, Henry said he'll file legislation in the 2014 regular session that would seek to keep Louisiana from participating in the Common Core. But he said Jindal could stop the state's participation in the initiative now.

"Our state is looking to you to preserve our sovereignty and the role of parents in education," Henry wrote.

Jindal, who supported Louisiana's adoption of the Common Core, didn't say Monday whether he'd reconsider his backing, instead sending Henry's letter to state education leaders to consider.

Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core standards, which measure skills and knowledge in subjects like math and English and allow states to compare the testing results against each other.

They are being phased in by Louisiana, adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 and to be fully in place by the 2014-15 school year.

Supporters say the uniform standards will better prepare students for college and careers with more rigorous testing that they expect to change the way teachers instruct their students.

The standards were developed in a joint process among states seeking to have a set of uninform benchmarks for what students should learn in English and math classes.

By using the Common Core standards, critics say Louisiana is abdicating local control of its curriculum to the federal government. They've also raised concerns about privacy issues in sharing student data and the costs of the technology upgrades involved in the testing.

Despite the criticism, the state Senate earlier this year rejected an attempt to stop implementation of the Common Core in public schools.

But Common Core faces increasing opposition from tea party supporters and conservative groups around the country, and Jindal, a Republican and potential 2016 presidential candidate, is being pressured to reverse his stance.

In response to Henry's letter, the governor forwarded the information to Superintendent of Education John White and BESE.

"The governor shares these concerns," Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin said in an email.

He said Jindal is asking White and BESE to determine whether the concerns can be addressed while keeping Common Core standards in place.

"We support rigor and high academic standards that help ensure Louisiana students are getting the best possible education. What we do not support is a national or federalized curriculum," Plotkin said.

White issued a statement saying he looked forward to talking with Henry about his letter, but the education superintendent also repeated his support for Common Core.

"The Common Core standards are basic descriptions of reading, writing, and math skills that allow Louisiana students to see how they perform compared to students across America. While curriculum and textbooks should continue to be chosen by local educators, Louisiana students should all have the chance to compete nationally," White said.

Supporters of the Common Core urged state leaders to stay on track with the national standards for public school testing.

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