Our Views: Stick with the cause

Editorial, The Advocate, April 17, 2014 -

What could be stranger than Gov. Bobby Jindal throwing in with teacher unions to oppose one of the primary conservative goals in education policy over the past two decades? Strange but true, and bad for the state and its children’s futures. The flash point has been the so-called Common Core academic standards, and the tests under development for years to be used in conjunction with them. The larger question is whether we have schools focused on learning and achievement, or baby-sitting services that leave another generation of children behind academically, socially and economically. Jindal has made the wrong choice. His latest is a suggestion that he believes he can yank the tests planned for the new standards, even if the Legislature refuses to do so. The state has a contract with a consortium of other states — not the U.S. government, as right-wingers opposed to Common Core say. That contract requires that the governor, the state superintendent of education and the head of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education all sign off on withdrawal from the consortium. State Superintendent John White and BESE President Chas Roemer continue to back the standards and the tests. They are showing far more backbone in the face of political pressure than Jindal. As White noted this week, it’s also a bad time for schools to be put into uncertainty about their goals for the coming school year, and whether tests will be available to meet the new curricula that teachers are developing as we speak. Jindal’s retreat from Common Core seems meant to appease anti-standards conservatives in the Iowa presidential caucuses. In putting political expedience ahead of the interests of Louisiana’s children, the governor is failing a key test of leadership. That’s one test Jindal can’t easily avoid — at least if he wants to be taken seriously as a contender for the highest office in the land.