Louisiana’s Common Core Compromise

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana may be making progress toward getting out of Common Core, but it won’t be in time to further Gov. Bobby Jindal’s presidential aspirations.

Last week a series of bills dubbed the Common Core Compromise began working through the Louisiana legislature.  State Representative Brett Geymann is the author of HB373 which lays the groundwork for new standards by requiring the state education board to draft new standards that would replace Common Core.  There is no guarantee that these new standards would be adopted, however, which is why Governor Jindal’s office hasn’t endorsed the compromise:

The bill (HB 373), authored by state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, lays out a process for reviewing and possibly adopting new academic standards. Under the legislation, Louisiana could replace Common Core, but may also opt to keep the controversial educational benchmarks. While the review takes place, Common Core will continue to be used.  Under the current law, the BESE board is not bound by any review process and can thus circumvent the public input process; Geymann’s bill would change that.

Under Rep. Geymann’s proposed legislation, the state education board would begin reviewing and drafting new standards this summer; the public would have a say on the standards through a series of meetings and comment periods throughout the state and by February 2016 the standards would be posted on the BESE website and adopted in March 2016.  There is no guarantee that the new standards won’t strongly resemble Common Core, however, which seems to be Jindal’s objection.  But, at the very least, the public would get to weigh in on the new standards, a process not afforded to them under Common Core.  Supporters of the bill say that it is, at least, a path to scrapping Common Core.

The new standards, whatever they may look like, would be adopted by a brand new BESE board which would be sworn in January 2016; a clean slate all the way around as there will be a new Louisiana governor by then as well. The new governor could veto the new standards which means Louisiana would still be under Common Core.

Governor Jindal’s decision to withhold support of the bill is seen by some as political posturing:

Also, if the Common Core compromise was adopted, Jindal would essentially have no role in potentially getting rid of the standards. Under the proposed plan, the opportunity to drop Common Core wouldn’t actually come up until 2016 at the earliest, after Jindal leaves office. Under the agreement reached, Common Core would absolutely remain in place for the rest of Jindal’s tenure.

“This governor is not in the process [under the compromise plan],” said state Sen. Conrad Appel, R-Metairie, a Common Core supporter who helped put together the agreement with Geymann and others.

Jindal’s office hasn’t cited this timeline as a part of their objection to the plan, but it could make the Louisiana’s Common Core fight a trickier talking point for the governor in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, where he will be campaigning if he runs for president. Jindal wouldn’t be able to say Louisiana had gotten rid of Common Core under his watch.

“Bobby would like to be able to say ‘Yes. We ditched Common Core,'” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist based at the University of Louisiana -Lafayette, “This format doesn’t provide him with the kind of victory lap he would prefer.”

Jindal spokesman Kyle Plotkin explains Jindal’s reluctance to endorse the deal:

“First, we are concerned that the veto mechanism in the proposed legislation could set up a process where the state reverts to Common Core,” Plotkin said. “Secondly, there is concern about the commission set up by BESE to come up with new Louisiana standards because some believe it is filled with Common Core supporters.”

In the end, the best plan to get Louisiana out of Common Core seems to be this Common Core Compromise; Jindal’s own proposed Common Core legislation has been dropped.

Jindal’s concerns that Louisiana may still be stuck with Common Core, or Common Core-like standards, may be entirely justified, but at least for the time being, this seems to be the only way out.


Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.