Legislators urge calm, cooperation in debate over Common Core

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Dear Editor,

The extreme rhetoric and negative tone that has come to dominate the debate over Common Core is counterproductive to a successful resolution of the issue in the best interest of Louisiana students. This same negative tone and rhetoric in response to Governor Jindal’s announcement isn’t constructive either.

While there are strong feelings on all sides of the issue, it’s impossible to deny that there is tremendous confusion and genuine concern about both the roll-out, and the long-term impact of Common Core.

On this issue, we believe the Governor made the right decision. We also believe the evolution of his thinking on Common Core is sincere. In his travels, he has surely seen the concern about Common Core among teachers and parents all across the country as well as here in Louisiana. This concern can be found across the political spectrum – from Tea Party conservatives, Republicans, Independents and more than a few Democrats.

This issue is part of an important national debate over the future of public education in America. It isn’t just happening here. It’s happening in states all across the country that are having second thoughts about Common Core.

There are responsible people with genuine objections on both sides of this issue. Regardless of one’s stand on Common Core, it is irresponsible to simply ignore the real concerns of thousands of teachers and the parents of tens of thousands of school children in our state.

The Federal government has been steadily expanding its grip on public education for the last 40 years. The Race to the Top program is the latest example of using Federal funds to entice, and then lock in, states. The PARCC testing regime, for example, was developed with Race to the Top dollars. These programs seem to be designed to expand Federal control of public education in states and localities under the guise of “academic rigor.”

Education is big business. An unholy alliance of Federal government bureaucrats and large educational product and service companies threatens to focus elementary and secondary education in Louisiana on the use of their educational products and services to support the new standards, rather than the needs of our students. That may be why there are real questions about the motives of many of the private sector participants in the CCSS development process.

We thank the Governor for utilizing the tools available to him. We look forward to working with the Governor, our colleagues in the legislature, BESE, DOE and stakeholders across the state to craft standards and testing that work for Louisiana students.

We will work hard in the next legislative session to ensure our students are protected and afford them every opportunity to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. We will work with our colleagues on both sides of the issue to find common ground for standards that truly benefit Louisiana students.

We strongly urge everyone who cares about public education to take a deep breath, and recognize that those who disagree about how best to proceed, really care about education too.

Even those who have changed their minds.

State Reps. James Armes, Terry Brown, Henry Burns, Tim Burns, Greg Cromer, Gordon Dove, Ray Garofalo, Brett Geymann, Johnny Guinn, Kenny Havard, Lance Harris, Joe Harrison, Cameron Henry, Bob Hensgens, Valarie Hodges, Paul Hollis, Frank Hoffman, Frank Howard, Barry Ivey, Sam Jones, Eddie Lambert, Bernard Lebas, Sherman Mack, Greg Miller, Jack Montoucet, Jim Morris, Kevin Pearson, Rogers Pope, Steve Pugh, Steve Pylant, Dee Richard, John Schroder, Alan Seabaugh, Lenar Whitney and Tom Wilmott

State Sens. A. G. Crowe, Dale Erdey, Elbert Guillory, Bob Kostelka and Jonathan Perry