OUR VIEW: Keep an eye on Common Core this session
Issues relative to education have proven ubiquitous during Louisiana’s annual lawmaking sessions.
Higher education – along with health care – has shouldered the burden of the state’s recurring revenue issues; the same has been true with K-12 as the funding mechanism for public schools has stayed without its annual inflation rate even as costs have climbed. And of course there was the package of K-12 reform ushered through the chambers headlined by the voucher program.
Though the details have changed, education will once again dominate this year’s session, which commenced Monday.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposed budget would hike higher education funding by $141 million, a modest amount relative to consecutive years of cuts that preceded it and an amount buoyed by $88 million from state-allowed tuition hikes. It also poses to create a new source of funding for institutions of higher education that focus on workforce training, the ultimate carrot at the end of education’s stick.
But those morsels of good news pale in comparison to an issue that has bounded down the tracks leading to the state capital – Common Core State Standards.
Before the session concludes in June, hundreds will protest as bills to unwind or boot Common Core from Louisiana are considered by lawmakers.
The national standards set what students should know in English and math at the end of each grade level, enshrining educational milestones in attempt to generate more rigorous curricula.
Louisiana adopted the standards in 2011, and they began being adapted in the current school year. Public outrage helped convince the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to delay some of the teacher and student accountability measures related to Common Core as more curriculum is developed.
But that is not enough for parents’ groups and teachers’ unions, whose leaders call for more local control over a child’s education, question whether “immoral” books will use the standards as a key to the classroom, claim to be concerned about corporate interests and worry that Louisiana has not done enough to prepare teachers and school districts for the standards.
Many points for and against Common Core have merit. A public largely unaware of the issues when Common Core was adopted is now in tune with many of its effects. That awareness will rightfully grow over the next two months.
Whatever your stance on this issue and others – such as the governor’s attempts to wrestle control from the supposed nonpartisan levee board that filed suit against oil and gas companies for coastal erosion damages – let your lawmakers know.
Your ideas and your preferences deserve to ring out in the House and Senate.