By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – Remember when Nancy Pelosi said “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it…”? She was talking about Obamacare, of course, but it seems now that this profound political approach could also have applied to Common Core.
In the beginning, it was touted as the great savior of public education; it was going to raise standards across the country and “it’s bi-partisan!” they said. Governors from across the country came together and agreed to education reform and common nationwide standards.
And so it goes that not long after Common Core became policy, the backlash began. I’d venture to say that the majority of parents who send their children to public schools never even heard of Common Core before it became the rule of the land; even worse, many of them still don’t know what it is.
That’s another story.
One of the proponents for Common Core, of course, was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal; however, now that we are finding out “what is in it,” public opinion is beginning to turn against Common Core. As with Obamacare, there are still die hard believers, but the tide is turning.
Does it have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle? Maybe.
In Louisiana there has been a growing rift between Governor Jindal and Education Superintendent John White as Jindal has been turning away from Common Core. Governor Jindal penned an Op-Ed in USA Today this week in which he advocated leaving education to the states:
I’m from the school that believes education is a matter best left for local control. The notion of Washington determining curricula is something most states are simply not interested in. It’s a non-starter.
A definite pivot. Jindal was all for Common Core in 2008:
“Since 2008, Jindal has touted the need for Common Core and its ability to raise Louisiana’s education standards. But now as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Jindal finds himself having to balance the political sway of the Tea Party against a program he has fought to put in place for nearly five years…”
So what changed his mind?
In his Op-Ed, Jindal says that “the federal government became increasingly involved,” and
Second, parents have spoken out. It has become fashionable in the news media to believe there is a right-wing conspiracy against Common Core. The folks who think that need to get out more. The rebellion against federal government mandated testing is widespread and is led by parents of all stripes and political persuasions.
Fair enough. I can’t begrudge a man who sees the light and alters his position, even if it does seem a little opportunistic.
Jindal’s new position has put him at odds with John White; via the New Orleans Advocate:
Superintendent of Education John White got his job with the backing of Gov. Bobby Jindal, but two years later, the men are increasingly at odds and appear to be drifting further apart on education policy.
The rift centers on Louisiana’s shift to Common Core standards, and comes largely because Jindal did an about-face, moving from strident supporter to critic of the reading, writing and math benchmarks adopted by most states.
But the fissure, which has developed in the most recent legislative session, is a striking contrast to 2012 when White served as a sort of Jindal proxy before the Legislature, helping to muscle through the Republican governor’s sweeping education changes.
Governor Jindal has been working behind the scenes as the Louisiana legislature is in session throwing his weight and influence behind various anti-Common Core bills, but has not been successful in most cases. Earlier this month he lent support to House Bill 381 which was to scrap Common Core; the bill was defeated.
In any case, Louisiana is still a Common Core state even though the governor has changed his position. Both Governor Jindal and Superintendent White play down any rift between their now altered positions on the best educational plan for the state. Is Jindal just being opportunist, looking at 2016, or has the leopard changed his spots?
Only time will tell.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.
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