At the Chalk Face: Five Louisiana “Educators” Want Common Core

On April 21, 2014, the Baton Rouge Advocate ran an article by Will Sentell entitled, Educators Renew Support for Common Core and Its Tests.

The first line of the article is comical:

Five educators said Monday morning that they will urge state House and Senate members to support the Common Core academic standards and the controversial tests that go with them. [Emphasis added.]

Since when is this news?

Ahh, but we are in “Stay the Course” mode (read about it in this post and this post).

So, we have a supposed “news” article centered upon five individuals who want the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its associated test constructed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

Five “educators.”

That reminds me of the “three Louisiana teachers” who “developed” CCSS.

The Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) is comprised of almost 21,000 teachers. The entire state employs approximately 49,000 teachers.

Five Louisiana “educators” want CCSS and PARCC.

In his article, Sentell quotes one superintendent, one teacher, one CCSS/PARCC “specialist”– and State Superintendent John White and his State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) President and boss, Chas Roemer.

The one teacher, Amy Deslattes, does have a letter for legislators, but even that is comical:

Deslattes said a letter is being sent to state House and Senate members, and visits are planned to the State Capitol, that spells out the work that has been done since 2010 to implement Common Core and PARCC.

“We value the work we have done, our students have done, our parents have done, and we are here to insist you value that work too,” says the letter, which is signed by dozens of educators[Emphasis added.]

“Dozens”?? 24? 36? 48?

Not “thousands”??

Not even “hundreds”??

In May 2009, former State Superintendent Paul Pastorek and Governor Bobby Jindal signed Louisiana on for CCSS. They actually signed the CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) that was to become part of the Race to the Top (RTTT) application before there even was a RTTT. (RTTT was announced one month later. I detail all of this information in this March 2014 post.)

In 2010, only 26 Louisiana districts (38% of the total 69 districts– see page 52 of this link) voted to adopt CCSS. However, Louisiana’s RTTT application (and its CCSS MOU) was accepted by US Department of Education (USDOE) anyway.

Sentell’s CCSS supporters include the superintendent of St. John the Baptist and a teacher from Lafayette.  Both St. John the Baptist and Lafayette voted for CCSS in 2009. As for the CCSS/PARCC “specialist” in Sentell’s article, she is from Calcasieu, a district that did not vote for CCSS in 2009.

And yet, now these three (and the predictable White and Roemer) are calling all Louisiana districts to “stay the course” with a CCSS that the majority of Louisiana districts did not support, and which Louisiana remains bound to via the signature of a single Louisiana elected: Governor Bobby Jindal.

Why a superintendent and teacher would push to keep PARCC is beyond me. Louisiana will pay around $29.50 per student for this test, a test used to eventually (on furlough but not gone away) “evaluate” teachers.

Sentell reports that the PARCC MOU can only be voided if Jindal, White, and Roemer all agree. However, according to his April 8, 2014, testimony before the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee, White stated that the PARCC MOU commits Louisiana to develop and design PARCC– not administer it.

In other words, according to White’s testimony, Louisiana need not spend $29.50 per student on PARCC.

According to Sentell, Calcasieu CCSS/PARCC Specialist Judy Vail states that Louisiana has kept its agreement for PARCC development/design:

Judy Vail, accountability coordinator for the Calcasieu Parish School District and Common Core/PARCC specialist, said Louisiana has had about 74 people involved in the development of the test since 2010, when BESE endorsed Common Core.

If we have done our PARCC “design and development, “it seems that there is no reason for Louisiana to continue with PARCC.

Vail maintains that it is too late for Louisiana to develop a replacement test for PARCC.

Here’s a question: Why would Louisiana need to develop a replacement for PARCC if Jindal dumps CCSS?

Louisiana already had standards, and Louisiana already had assessments.

This whole “Whatever will we do if we forsake CCSS and PARCC??” is a sales tactic to unnerve states into keeping a set of “standards” designed to make education nationwide into an experiment and to sell “CCSS-linked” curriculum and tests.

CCSS has not been tested. There is zero evidence that CCSS provides some “improvement” over former Louisiana standards. The only “evidence” is the Fordham Institute’s 2010 grading of state standards against CCSS. Louisiana’s English Language Arts (ELA) standards tied CCSS ELA, yet Fordham wants to sell CCSS math and ELA to all states, even those it rated as having higher standards already in place, like California, Indiana, and DC. (Read more about Fordham and its CCSS “”traveling show” here and here.)

Here’s an idea:

Let’s give Louisiana districts the right to adopt their own standards.

I know that when it comes to establishing charters in place of community schools, pushing a voucher program that cannot seem to reach impressive numbers, and establishing a program for businesses to offer “courses”– all of which funnel money away from the traditional public schools– White and Roemer are “quick to cry “choice.”

In fact, White even states that it is “the American way… to be able to choose.”

And consider what Roemer says about “choice” in this February 2013 interview:

“The idea that every child’s the same, the idea that every kid should go to the same school and be taught in the same way…that’s just not relevant anymore,” Roemer says.

Yet both White and Roemer promote CCSS, an unprecedented attempt to standardize American public education.

Choice is fine, so long as it is the choice of those outside of the classroom–in this case, White and Roemer– wish for districts to have.

If St. John the Baptist, and Lafayette, and Calcasieu want CCSS, let ‘em have it. It’s the American way, John. Let’s get “relevant,” Chas.

However, I’m thinking that the CCSS “sale” in these three districts is less than final (gross understatement) if Sentell is writing articles on CCSS support from “five educators,” two of whom are White and Roemer.

Perhaps for his next  “Stay the Course” article, Sentell should at least interview ten. That’s closer to 49,000….

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Mercedes Schneider

Mercedes Schneider is a Louisiana public school teacher and education activist. She holds a Ph.D. in applied statistics and research methods and has taught for the past 22 years.