Lawmakers hold hearing on Common Core Standards

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State lawmakers say they agree with having higher standards for education, but believe the new Common Core Standards may have been too much too soon.

Monday, lawmakers on the House Education Committee were addressed by Superintendent of Education John White and the president of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Chas Roemer.

White says the new curriculum pushes students in all grades to be independent thinkers. He told the committee that will lead to better educated students who are ready for life beyond the classroom, as well as being able to compete with students in other states and countries for jobs.

"The idea of increased rigor is one that I have found is universally accepted by the parents of this state," Roemer said.

Not all lawmakers agreed with that statement.

One representative said if teachers were not fully prepared for the new methods, parents couldn't be that accepting. He commented that he had spoken with several teachers, who told him children were confused by what was happening in class. He says he was also told those students who were successful, were now failing.

"Is there any information that you can give me that I can give to parents in my district that have an amazing amount of concern about this, that I can prove to them this has been done somewhere else and it works?" questioned Representative Cameron Henry, of Metarie.

Henry also questioned what education groups in the state support Common Core. He also quested Roemer on who initially sold BESE on these standards. Roemer says BESE was first introduced to Common Core, by then-Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek.

The issue of whether districts around the state were financially ready to take on these standards also came up. Roemer said there are some district who are farther ahead than others, but said it may be a matter of districts handling their finances better.

Superintendent White said St. Helena, one of the lowest districts in the state, had budgeted for certain items needed such as computers.

"His parish spent 35 million to upgrade computers," said Representative John Bel Edwards, referring to Representative Henry.

Technology will play a big part in how students are tested under the new curriculum.

Henry has asked Governor Bobby Jindal to take action in removing Common Core from the state. The representative says he also plans to file a bill in the 2014 session to remove the new standards from classrooms.

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