Teachers concerned about timing of Gov. Jindal's attempt to stop Common Core

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Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 7:00am

Governor Bobby Jindal and state education officials squared off after the governor declared his intention to end Louisiana's use of Common Core State Standards and the PARCC test. But the people most affected by Governor Jindal's announcement are concerned.

Teachers say they knew he opposed Common Core and the PARCC test, but the timing of his announcement was bad.

"This timing, with less than two and a half months before the school year begins, and in some cases less than two months, for some school districts, leaves our teachers, our students, our districts in a lurch," said Debbie Meaux, President of the Louisiana Association of Educators, "because they're very unsure of exactly what it is that they are going to have to implement."

It is up to teachers to make sure students learn what they are supposed to. But Meaux, who leads one of the state's largest teachers unions, said they feel they have little control over their material.

"We feel almost as though we're caught between a rock and a hard place, really," she stated. "We're caught in the middle of a political disagreement between the governor and BESE and the Superintendent of Education. And that's unfortunate, because all of our decisions on education should be based on what is best for the children. And here we are, caught in a political battle of wills, I think."

Louisiana approved Common Core in 2010, and slowly introduced it into the classroom along with the PARCC test. Meaux worries that the state will choose a new standardized exam without fully implementing a new curriculum.

"Otherwise, we're stuck with testing kids on something that they haven't been taught," she explained.

That would make every teacher in the state look bad, and weakens their job performance rating. To prevent that from happening, teachers want to be involved the process of choosing the next test and academic standards.

"Even if the new standards look similar to Common Core, we want to make sure that they are either created or vetted by Louisiana teachers," Meaux stated. "We didn't have much voice in the actual standards, the creation of the standards, and we want to make sure that that happens. We believe that all the stakeholders should be involved. That would teachers, that would be parents, community leaders, everyone who has a stake in the education of our children here in Louisiana."

When Louisiana introduced Common Core, teachers felt like they had little guidance from the state. Districts with more resources were able to better train their teachers and staff, while other districts struggled to find time to get their faculties ready. Meaux worries a similarly difficult implementation will cause significant frustration from her union's membership.

"Because when you don't have buy-in from those who are carrying your water for you, so to speak, then you risk the possibility that they'll storm against you."  

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