Aug. 4, 2015 10:20 AM

New battlefront: The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Photo Robin May

The legislative battle over the Common Core educational standards ended with resounding victories for the standards, but the war rages on. The new battlefront is the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The eight elected members of BESE are all up for re-election this fall.

Earlier this year, BESE moved up its seven-year review of Louisiana’s educational standards to quell concerns about Common Core. The review will be completed by the end of 2016 instead of in 2017.

Polls consistently show most voters know little about Common Core, which is a comprehensive set of student learning standards in English and mathematics for kindergarten through 12th grade. It is not a federal program and did not originate with President Barack Obama. The standards were the brainchild of the nation’s governors in 2009.

Gov. Bobby Jindal was an early and ardent supporter of Common Core. He convinced lawmakers to adopt it in 2012 — then flip-flopped when hardcore conservatives started railing against the standards. The Legislature’s refusal to abandon Common Core ranks among Jindal’s most glaring political failures.

The loudest criticisms concern the standardized Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test and some of the curricula that have been used to implement Common Core. To be fair, some school districts rolled out the new standards far better than others. Where the rollout did not go well, students and parents had a tough time adjusting. Where things rolled out smoothly, there is little opposition.

BESE’s review process, which is led by educators, potentially will revise both the standards and the standardized tests that students take as part of Common Core. As part of the review process, citizens can comment online at Comments received by Wednesday, Aug. 5, will be reviewed before BESE’s next meeting on Aug. 19, but BESE will continue to accept comments for months.

The Council for A Better Louisiana, a nonpartisan public affairs organization, has published numerous commentaries in support of the standards — and debunked many of the myths spun by opponents. CABL also supports the review process.

CABL posted a synopsis of key grade-by-grade standards in an effort to encourage citizens to focus on the standards themselves rather than the political rhetoric surrounding Common Core. You can read more about the standards here.

“If someone likes a standard and wants to keep it as it is, that needs to be said,” CABL noted in a recent commentary. “But if someone objects to a standard, it makes sense that they point out the problem and suggest a solution or a change. ... [I]f this is intended to be a substantive and constructive process — as it should be — then the criticisms of the standards should also be substantive and constructive.”

Equally important, CABL notes, is the fact that the comment-gathering process is being handled by the Southern Regional Education Board, an independent, nonpartisan group that, as CABL says, “has a long history of working to improve public education.”

Everyone should learn more about Common Core, particularly with so much misinformation floating around about it. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Read the Flipping Paper!

While the members of this diverse group of Acadiana women can’t all say they were firsts, each of them has contributed to our community in ways too countless to capture in 500-word profiles ...