The Mother of all Flip Flops?

by Pat Austin | June 23rd, 2014

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The Mother of all Flip Flops?

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – What in the world is going on with Com­mon Core in Louisiana? Has Gov­er­nor Bobby Jin­dal pulled Louisiana out of Com­mon Core or not? The thing is, actu­ally, no, he hasn’t. He can’t.

Louisiana is dif­fer­ent than a lot of states in that the state school board has much more power than one might assume; more power in edu­ca­tional mat­ters than the governor.

Back up to 2011: in his zeal for edu­ca­tion reform in Louisiana, Gov­er­nor Jin­dal stacked the BESE Board (Board of Ele­men­tary and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion) with folks favor­able to his then ideas for edu­ca­tional reform which included Com­mon Core and a strin­gent yet sub­jec­tive teacher eval­u­a­tion sys­tem called COMPASS:

The governor’s fac­tion will have their way in mat­ters of pol­icy, includ­ing his choice for super­in­ten­dent of education,[Associated Press reporter Melinda] Des­latte con­cedes: “Jindal’s got three appointees to the board, and most of the eight elected mem­bers espouse his sup­port of vouch­ers, char­ter school expan­sion, school takeovers and teacher eval­u­a­tions tied at least partly to stu­dent test scores.”

Now, back to 2014 and the fric­tion between Edu­ca­tion Super­in­ten­dent John White and Gov­er­nor Jin­dal is explo­sive. They are now on totally oppo­site sides of the edu­ca­tional issue. Now, Jin­dal has issued an Exec­u­tive Order demand­ing that Louisiana drop the PARCC assess­ment, yet this respon­si­bil­ity actu­ally lies with the BESE board, the board that Jin­dal cre­ated. So, since Jin­dal can’t actu­ally scrap the PARCC assess­ment on his own, his line of argu­ment cen­ters on the legal­i­ties of the con­tract for the test:

Jindal’s offi­cials have said the school board must pur­sue a new con­tract for the assess­ment, com­piled by the Part­ner­ship for Assess­ment of Readi­ness for Col­lege and Careers, or PARCC for short. The governor’s office could force edu­ca­tion offi­cials to look at other ven­dors besides PARCC — which is asso­ci­ated with Com­mon Core — if that was the case.

White and school board pres­i­dent Chas Roe­mer main­tain that they could use an exist­ing con­tract with a ven­dor to pur­chase PARCC ques­tions, thereby neu­ter­ing the Jin­dal administration’s abil­ity to force them to look at tests other than ones asso­ci­ated with Com­mon Core. In response, the Jin­dal admin­is­tra­tion sus­pended the state con­tract with the ven­dor White and Roe­mer intended to use to pur­chase PARCC questions.

Under Louisiana law, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and the Board of Ele­men­tary and Sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion are pro­hib­ited from enter­ing into a con­tract for the pur­pose of cir­cum­vent­ing the laws gov­ern­ing pro­cure­ment,” said Kristy Nichols, who heads up the state’s depart­ment that over­sees con­tracts for Jin­dal, in a writ­ten statement.

And there you have the standoff.

Adding to the drama is the ques­tion of Jindal’s polit­i­cal future; in essence, he has done a com­plete rever­sal on Com­mon Core, and has chal­lenged his hand-​picked BESE board, and some would ques­tion his motives. Is this a true com­mit­ment to edu­ca­tional reform or is it polit­i­cal expe­di­ency? Is it the mother of all flip-​flops?

The bat­tle is ongo­ing but as of now, school dis­tricts in Louisiana are prepar­ing to go ahead with the Com­mon Core stan­dards this fall. Noth­ing has changed.

Except per­haps Gov­er­nor Jindal’s fortunes.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – What in the world is going on with Common Core in Louisiana?  Has Governor Bobby Jindal pulled Louisiana out of Common Core or not?  The thing is, actually, no, he hasn’t.  He can’t.

Louisiana is different than a lot of states in that the state school board has much more power than one might assume; more power in educational matters than the governor.

Back up to 2011:  in his zeal for education reform in Louisiana, Governor Jindal stacked the BESE Board (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) with folks favorable to his then ideas for educational reform which included Common Core and a stringent yet subjective teacher evaluation system called COMPASS:

The governor’s faction will have their way in matters of policy, including his choice for superintendent of education,[Associated Press reporter Melinda] Deslatte concedes: “Jindal’s got three appointees to the board, and most of the eight elected members espouse his support of vouchers, charter school expansion, school takeovers and teacher evaluations tied at least partly to student test scores.”

Now, back to 2014 and the friction between Education Superintendent John White and Governor Jindal is explosive.  They are now on totally opposite sides of the educational issue.  Now, Jindal has issued an Executive Order demanding that Louisiana drop the PARCC assessment, yet this responsibility actually lies with the BESE board, the board that Jindal created.  So, since Jindal can’t actually scrap the PARCC assessment on his own, his line of argument centers on the legalities of the contract for the test:

Jindal’s officials have said the school board must pursue a new contract for the assessment, compiled by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC for short. The governor’s office could force education officials to look at other vendors besides PARCC — which is associated with Common Core — if that was the case.

White and school board president Chas Roemer maintain that they could use an existing contract with a vendor to purchase PARCC questions, thereby neutering the Jindal administration’s ability to force them to look at tests other than ones associated with Common Core. In response, the Jindal administration suspended the state contract with the vendor White and Roemer intended to use to purchase PARCC questions.

“Under Louisiana law, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a contract for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement,” said Kristy Nichols, who heads up the state’s department that oversees contracts for Jindal, in a written statement.

And there you have the standoff.

Adding to the drama is the question of Jindal’s political future; in essence, he has done a complete reversal on Common Core, and has challenged his hand-picked BESE board, and some would question his motives.  Is this a true commitment to educational reform or is it political expediency?  Is it the mother of all flip-flops?

The battle is ongoing but as of now, school districts in Louisiana are preparing to go ahead with the Common Core standards this fall.  Nothing has changed.

Except perhaps Governor Jindal’s fortunes.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

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