Stakes are high with Common Core

by Leslie Turk

With more complaints than big ideas being heard, supporters and opponents are wondering what happens next in regard to Common Core.

With more complaints than big ideas being heard, supporters and opponents are wondering what happens next in regard to Common Core.

While observers in Louisiana aren't predicting a court battle just yet, it is an avenue that has bubbled to the surface in other states, like New York, where a class action lawsuit has been mentioned by parents in Wappingers Falls. In Wisconsin, the state schools superintendent is threatening to sue as well if lawmakers repeal Common Core standards next time they meet. During a presentation recently in D.C., former Louisiana superintendent of education Paul Pastorek compared the ongoing debate to a time when high-stakes tests were implemented here in the late '90s, a move that brought on its own round of lawsuits.

Whiteboard Advisors, a Washington-based policy consulting practice, issued a report recently saying national education "insiders" are split on whether Louisiana will eventually pull out, noting there are a "variety of influential voices for and against the Common Core assessments but [insiders] think some putative allies may be doing harm to proponents of the standards."

BESE member Chas Roemer is leading the state's effort to
keep Common Core

Aside from state Education Superintendent John White, BESE chair Chas Roemer is quickly becoming the face of Louisiana s proponent effort. Considering his political ambitions - the latest includes rumors that he's eyeing the 6th Congressional District - his front and center role may also mean he has the most to lose in all of this. The start of the 2014 regular session will tell how much, and is probably the answer to the question of what happens next.

Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, who has been holding his own town hall meetings on the topic, said he has a package of bills in the works. He said he has heard many concerns from educators and parents about being locked out of the process by White and Roemer.

"There's a severe lack of trust there and I can't do anything to fix that," he said.

But what he can do is prepare legislation to give local school officials more control over content and curriculum.

"They should be able to decide on textbooks and things like that. I'm still fleshing out the idea," Schroder told LaPolitics.

Another one of his bills may focus on data-sharing and what the Department of Education is allowed to collect. Other lawmakers are looking at how much should be spent implementing Common Core and how parents can have a voice in the process.

Legislation is also expected from Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, who wants to pull Louisiana out of Common Core altogether.