Jindal wants La. out of Common Core

In his strongest criticism to date, Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday he wants the state out of Common Core and the tests that go with it.

“It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a plan B,” he said.

The comments are significant for two reasons.

While the governor has said for weeks that he thinks he has the option of shelving the Common Core exams, his remarks Friday appear to all but ensure such a move.

In addition, Jindal has repeatedly blasted the standards in recent months but, until Friday, had stopped short of saying he wants the state to drop them.

The exams are being prepared by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers, or PARCC.

“I am committed to getting us out of PARCC, out of Common Core,” he said in a brief interview.

Asked if that means he is ready to order the tests dropped, he said his office is “still finalizing our options” on how to get Louisiana out of both PARCC and Common Core.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education endorsed the standards in 2010 and 2014. How the state would get rid of them, short of a BESE reversal or a new state law, is unclear.

BESE President Chas Roemer noted that the Legislature rejected bills to scrap the standards and the tests.

“He challenged the Legislature, and the Legislature didn’t agree with him,” Roemer said of Jindal. “Our children deserve better than a plan B.”

State Superintendent of Education John White, who like Roemer is a supporter of Common Core and the tests, noted that the new school year starts in two months.

He said plans for the new academic goals have been in the works among students and teachers for the past four years.

“They do not need a last-minute change,” White wrote. “They do not need chaos in the classroom.”

Common Core represents new academic goals in reading, writing and math. They are set to take full effect in Louisiana and most other states for the 2014-15 school year.

Backers contend the changes will add needed rigor to classrooms and improve student achievement.

Jindal, a former Common Core backer, has charged that federal officials have been too involved in the development of the standards.

In an interview, the governor said Common Core requires local education officials to adapt their curriculum to meet the new academic goals.

“Therefore, you really do have Washington, D.C., driving what is taught in our local classrooms,” he said.

Jindal’s comments came three days after White made a ringing defense of Common Core and the tests to a gathering of about 4,000 teachers at a conference in New Orleans.

White and Roemer also contend that any state withdrawal from Common Core tests requires the consent of Jindal, White and Roemer, not just Jindal alone.

The governor made his comments one day after Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who like Jindal is a Republican, signed legislation to shelve Common Core in that state.

South Carolina, where Jindal was set to deliver a speech on Friday, took similar action earlier this week. That state’s GOP Gov. Nikki Haley also is a Common Core critic.

Indiana left the drive for new standards earlier.

Florida also is bowing out of Common Core test plans under orders from Republican Gov. Mike Scott.

State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, one of the Legislature’s most outspoken critics of the standards, said Friday he is encouraged by Jindal’s latest comments and optimistic that he can get Louisiana out of Common Core.

“A lot of states are rethinking their decision,” Geymann said.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/