Jindal executive order slams Common Core in Louisiana

Louisiana governor and assumed presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal dealt a blow to Common Core administrators in his state this past Friday.

Jindal's executive order gives quarter to a wave of Louisiana parents opting their children out of the upcoming PARCC (Partnership for the Readiness of College and Careers) test, meant to "determine a baseline score from which districts and schools are expected to grow," per the Louisiana Department of Education.  The EO calls out Louisiana's BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) for strong-arming district schools into administering the test against parents' wishes.

At issue in particular is BESE's determination to punish schools for PARCC non-compliance.  Students who do not take the test receive a zero grade, with ensuing negative impacts on their "personal achievement," on "teacher evaluations," and on "school and district performance scores."

The EO's operative paragraph (boldface in original):

SECTION 4: As a viable and necessary action, BESE is urged to grant districts the ability to offer nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessment appropriate for Louisiana as an alternative to the PARCC test, including abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, rather than penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.

This looks more like a polite suggestion ("urged to grant ... the ability") than an order.  Sections 1 and 2 do demand that BESE adhere to Louisiana law, but only in vague terms – e.g., "parental involvement in the schools is directly related to better student achievement, attitudes, and performance in school," and "provide clear standards and expectations for schools and school systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood."  Section 3 directs BESE to "uphold the state accountability system established by La. R.S. 17:10.1 ... and allow[] parents to act on their beliefs for the best interests of their children."

"Specifically," a Jindal press release states, "the Executive Order reminds the [BESE] of their Constitutional authority" to do a number of things, including "follow the clear laws designed to facilitate parental involvement" and "establish an accountability system for schools."  So while BESE could claim that it already is doing these things, including via zeroes for noncompliance, it looks as though Jindal's executive order is designed to give school districts and parents cover in bucking the bureaucrats pushing Common Core in Louisiana.

One BESE member and superintendent expressed clear disdain for this development in an e-mail to BESE's president: "I might add that there is also confusion among superintendents and central staff personnel regarding consequences assigned to those students who opt out of testing[.] ... I have been told this will be a local decision.  This is an unacceptable response.  BESE needs to make the decision so there will be a consistent process in place statewide."  Local Louisiana station KLFY insists that the PARCC test is "not considered a high stakes test" – meaning, perhaps, that parents should not bother fighting it until it is "considered" one.

Parents will have an opportunity to speak their minds on the matter (maybe?) at two "PARCC information" forums on February 7.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.

Louisiana governor and assumed presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal dealt a blow to Common Core administrators in his state this past Friday.

Jindal's executive order gives quarter to a wave of Louisiana parents opting their children out of the upcoming PARCC (Partnership for the Readiness of College and Careers) test, meant to "determine a baseline score from which districts and schools are expected to grow," per the Louisiana Department of Education.  The EO calls out Louisiana's BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) for strong-arming district schools into administering the test against parents' wishes.

At issue in particular is BESE's determination to punish schools for PARCC non-compliance.  Students who do not take the test receive a zero grade, with ensuing negative impacts on their "personal achievement," on "teacher evaluations," and on "school and district performance scores."

The EO's operative paragraph (boldface in original):

SECTION 4: As a viable and necessary action, BESE is urged to grant districts the ability to offer nationally norm-referenced or other comparable assessment appropriate for Louisiana as an alternative to the PARCC test, including abbreviated versions for the purpose of benchmarking, rather than penalizing students, teachers and schools and jeopardizing our statewide accountability system.

This looks more like a polite suggestion ("urged to grant ... the ability") than an order.  Sections 1 and 2 do demand that BESE adhere to Louisiana law, but only in vague terms – e.g., "parental involvement in the schools is directly related to better student achievement, attitudes, and performance in school," and "provide clear standards and expectations for schools and school systems so that assessment of their effectiveness will be understood."  Section 3 directs BESE to "uphold the state accountability system established by La. R.S. 17:10.1 ... and allow[] parents to act on their beliefs for the best interests of their children."

"Specifically," a Jindal press release states, "the Executive Order reminds the [BESE] of their Constitutional authority" to do a number of things, including "follow the clear laws designed to facilitate parental involvement" and "establish an accountability system for schools."  So while BESE could claim that it already is doing these things, including via zeroes for noncompliance, it looks as though Jindal's executive order is designed to give school districts and parents cover in bucking the bureaucrats pushing Common Core in Louisiana.

One BESE member and superintendent expressed clear disdain for this development in an e-mail to BESE's president: "I might add that there is also confusion among superintendents and central staff personnel regarding consequences assigned to those students who opt out of testing[.] ... I have been told this will be a local decision.  This is an unacceptable response.  BESE needs to make the decision so there will be a consistent process in place statewide."  Local Louisiana station KLFY insists that the PARCC test is "not considered a high stakes test" – meaning, perhaps, that parents should not bother fighting it until it is "considered" one.

Parents will have an opportunity to speak their minds on the matter (maybe?) at two "PARCC information" forums on February 7.

Drew Belsky is American Thinker's deputy editor.  Contact him at drew@americanthinker.com, and follow him on Twitter @DJB627.