PAR places education ‘crisis’ at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s feet

Jul 20, 2014 by

BATON ROUGE – Stealing the title of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s book, Public Affairs Research Council President Robert Scott said today that Louisiana education is experiencing “Leadership and Crisis in education… failing its citizens and the governor is chiefly responsible.”

Scott, who joins most members of PAR in supporting Common Core State Standards, said in a statement issued today “Louisiana state government is failing its duty to provide leadership and accountability for public school education in the upcoming academic year. The situation has reached a crisis level with serious potential consequences for students, parents, teachers and all of us as stakeholders in the future of Louisiana.

“This was a crisis of choice and the clearest responsibility for it lies with the governor,” he said. “The current dispute between the governor on one side and the state education board on the other is on the verge of rendering a dysfunctional process to administer accountability tests to students this school year. This mess is potentially significant enough to damage the national profile of the state.”

Jindal, who once was a strong supporter of Common Core, now agrees with opponents that it represents an attempt by the federal government to control what’s taught in schools.

He has signed into law legislation requiring the state to use nationally comparable standards and most states are using CCSS.

“The governor’s actions so far appear to be an attempt to thwart the law and the Common Core implementation by creating a bureaucratic contest over state procurement practices and contracting law,” Scott said.

Solutions are available, he said, like the Department of Education handling testing in-house and not purchasing questions, adjusting the current contract for the next year or issuing a new competitively bid contract.

Scott said the state office that candles contracts should stick to doing that and not get into trying to develop education policy.

“Those bureaucrats, with the governor influencing their every move, should not be in the business of using that process to determine the state’s education policy and academic standards. That domain belongs to BESE and the Department of Education,” he said.

The PAR president also points out “The governor and his administration have been inconsistent on public contracting. After years of reviewing and approving Department of Education testing contracts, only now has the administration raised serious concerns about them. If the past contracting methods were faulty, the administration as well as the education agencies bear a responsibility.

“Although the governor now insists that competitive bids be used for a testing contract, he has endorsed no-bid contracts for major initiatives he has favored. His sudden zeal for competitive bidding is welcome but apparently is selective,” he said.

“From cutting-edge supporter to virulent enemy of Common Core, the governor’s inconsistent path on educational standards is becoming the defining issue of his gubernatorial and leadership legacy,” Scott said. “The governor’s change in stance began with ambiguous statements about his commitment to the new standards, which he helped birth. Only a year ago he was pushing hard for faster implementation of Common Core, and yet now he shows intolerance for those who want to proceed with Common Core even slowly.

“When he decided to oppose the standards, he made a limp effort during the recent legislative session and proved to be a weak ally of his fellow Common Core critics,” he said. “The Legislature rebuffed efforts to change the law in the direction he wanted it to go. Now the governor is on the presidential campaign trail loudly attacking Louisiana and its consensus implementation of Common Core.”

Scott said Jindal’s about-face, “combined with his apparent political calculations, are affecting his image as a sincere and reliable leader here in Louisiana. Years of work brought us to the point where the state is ready to start a new set of standards, a process the governor until recently sought to accelerate.”

Jindal blames federal government involvement in the standards as a reason to eliminate them.

Scott points out “The current problem – finding a way to conduct assessments for the next academic year – was in no way created by the federal government. This is a fully state-created crisis. The governor has the main responsibility for creating this crisis and a failure of the system would be on his shoulders.”

The governor also is using the same tactics – utilizing an unrelated agency to block policy – that he criticizes the Obama administration for doing, Scott said.

“The governor’s new opinion on Common Core is his business and his right, even though his opinion is not consistent with the laws he endorsed and signed into effect,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the governor is traveling the nation criticizing his state on this issue. But his potential use of executive over-reach and bureaucratic interference to stop Common Core is a more serious matter and would be damaging and punitive to schools and taxpayers.”

If Jindal uses this opportunity to work with the Department of Education to improve student assessments, he would be viewed as having leadership skills, Scott said. If not, he could be

via PAR places education ‘crisis’ at Gov. Bobby Jindal’s feet | Shreveporttimes |

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