Louisiana Federation of Teachers react to Jindal's announcement

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Statement from Louisiana Federation of Teachers

The showdown between Jindal on one side and White and Roemer on the other could lead to a dramatic political confrontation, according to Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan.

"There is no doubt that Common Core and PARCC are toxic because of the political controversy surrounding them," Monaghan said. "We know that our questions about the Common Core standards, PARCC tests and their implementation were never satisfactorily answered. The governor did what he has been promising to do for weeks. That is the political reality of the situation.

"Meanwhile," Monaghan said, "teachers and children want to know what the future holds."

The governor's order prohibits BESE from spending money on PARCC tests. He said the state's school board needs to develop new state standards and to take competitive bids for tests that measure those standards.

Louisiana's participation in Common Core dates back to 2010, Monaghan said, when BESE signed onto the standards as part of an application to receive federal Race to the Top funds. Although the state did was not approved for the funds, the state began to implement Common Core. BESE chose the PARCC test as the instrument to measure student achievement under the standards.

Controversy followed almost immediately. For various reasons, parents, teacher organizations and school systems all questioned the implementation of the standards as well as the origins of the standards themselves.

Problems with the rollout of the standards and test led to a two-year suspension of high-stakes consequences for students, but PARCC testing is scheduled to begin next year for third through eighth grade students.

The LFT has consistently maintained support for high standards, but questioned the implementation of the program in Louisiana. At last November's LFT convention, delegates adopted a resolution dealing with several aspects of Common Core State Standards and testing. The resolution asked for legislation that would:

• Adopt a three-year hold-harmless transitional period for the implementation of Common Core (On June 10, 2014, the Gates Foundation called for a two year moratorium on linking new tests to high stakes decisions).

• Guarantee appropriate curriculum framework for the implementation of Common Core and its tests.

• Repeal the letter grading system of schools prior to establishing consequences of Common Core implementation.

• Ensure the provision of appropriate technology to administer PARCC, or to provide for alternate means of assessment.

None of the elements of the LFT resolution were adopted by the Legislature.

Wednesday's announcement by the governor, and the response from BESE, pose big questions for teachers, parents and students in the months ahead. Whatever the eventual outcome, Monaghan said, there must be a sense of clarity in order for public education to function.

"What do teachers want?" Monaghan asked "Clear educational standards, an instrument that accurately and fairly measures student progress, and the resources necessary to meet those goals. Those are the tools that teachers need to do the job they are prepared to do. We hope that teachers and developmental experts will be consulted as new instruments are created under the governor's orders."