House Backs Common Core Compromise As Jindal Gets On Board

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Louisiana House agreed Wednesday to the main planks of a Common Core compromise, appearing to quiet the controversy over the education standards for the legislative session.

         Near-unanimous votes for the two bills came as Gov. Bobby Jindal announced his support for the deal.

         One bill by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, would set in motion a review of the multistate English and math standards with public meetings, legislative oversight and an up-or-down vote from Louisiana's next governor. The companion bill by Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, would place limits on the state's use of standardized testing material from a consortium aligned with Common Core.

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         The proposals move next to the Senate for consideration, where they weren't expected to hit roadblocks. The divisive feud over the standards had been much louder in the House.

         "With the governor's statement that they support the compromise, I don't see any other speed bumps," said Geymann, a chief legislative critic of Common Core. "It looks like it's on autopilot at this point."

         After months of heated rhetoric, there was little discussion of the bills on the House floor before they were passed with 99-0 and 99-1 votes.

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         The deal doesn't remove Common Core from Louisiana's public school classrooms, but it calls for a wholesale review of English and math standards used in public schools, with public hearings in each of Louisiana's six congressional districts.

         Development and review of the standards would remain with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, which has already started a review process. But under Geymann's bill, the House and Senate education committees and the governor would have the ability to reject the standards — in an up-or-down vote, not picking and choosing individual standards.

         If the revised standards are rejected, Common Core would stay in place.

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         The Common Core standards are benchmarks of what students should learn at each grade level in English and math. They've been adopted by more than 40 states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. Opponents say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education.

         The compromise proposal doesn't dictate that Common Core must be replaced and, in fact, the standards review process could come up with only modest adjustments that largely keep the multistate standards intact.

         Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core supporter, backs the package of bills. Jindal, a vocal Common Core opponent, had been reticent about the agreement reached but announced his backing Wednesday.

         "We are supportive of this compromise now that the superintendent and BESE have listened to the concerns of parents, legislators and the administration about the makeup of the standards review commission," the Republican governor's spokesman Mike Reed said in a statement.

         Reed added: "The next step will be to elect leaders who are committed to getting rid of Common Core."

         The standards review wouldn't be complete before Jindal leaves office. A decision on the standards would fall to Jindal's successor, who will take over in January, and to BESE members elected this fall.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte

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