Louisiana Legislators Present Standards Bills April 2

This is a re-post of retired teacher Mike Deshotel's blog, Louisiana Educator.  I totally agree and include my comment supporting Rep. Richard's bill in principle.

The Common Core Bills; Tell Your Legislator What You Want!

Attention educators and Parents! The anti-Common Core and anti-PARCC bills are going to be debated in the House Education Committee this Wednesday. This may be your best opportunity to make your concerns known to your legislator about Common Core and PARCC.

In January, this blog encouraged all my readers to respond to a survey on the Common Core State Standards and PARCC. The results were as follows: A total of 2,724 readers responded to the survey. Only 61 respondents, or 2% said that Louisiana should continue implementing CCSS as has been prescribed by Superintendent John White with the approval of BESE. 709 respondents, or 26% said they would prefer that CCSS and PARCC be phased in over a longer period of time starting with lower elementary grades and progressing one or two grades each year until it covers all grades. 1,954 respondents stated that they would prefer to do away with CCSS and PARCC and substitute an improved version of GLEs as the standards for our basic core subjects. Louisiana would implement its own testing as has been done in the past.

Partly based on these results and my own opinion, I have written the following email to my State Representative. He is not on the Education Committee so I am writing to him about general issues involved instead of specific bills.

Dear Representative __________,
I am a retired educator who lives in your district.
It is my understanding that various bills relative to the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC testing will be debated in the House Education Committee this week. We do not know yet what bills on these matters will be sent to the full House for your vote. Based on a survey I conducted about CCSS and PARCC in January I would like to recommend the following for your consideration: Please support any bills that will put a stop to the PARCC testing which is scheduled to start in Louisiana next school year. These tests have proven to be unreliable and have failed 70% of the students who took them last year in New York state. Our students do not deserve to be subjected to these unfair tests. In addition, I would like to ask you to vote for any legislation that will remove Louisiana from participation in the Common Core State Standards. Again, these standards are untested and may not be appropriate for our students. I and my colleagues would prefer that Louisiana continue to use and perfect its own standards unique to the needs and preferences of our educators and parents.

Michael Deshotels

That email represents my opinion and that of the great majority of the educators and parents who responded to my survey. If you feel that Common Core and PARCC are good for Louisiana, by all means please feel free to write to or call your legislator to express your opinion. Let's all participate in the democratic process.

Now here are more details on this matter that my blog readers will find useful in making their final decision on this matter:

As a last ditch effort to save their cherished program, our State Department of Education has produced a financial analysis claiming that it will cost us millions if we back out of Common Core 

now. They know that our cash strapped legislature is looking for any way to avoid increasing costs to the state budget so this is now the best argument for keeping the Common Core.

Common Core and PARCC. It was a real bargain to get into it but now its going to cost us a fortune to get out of it! That's the conclusion by our Department of Education. Don't believe a word of it. All we have gotten from our LDOE in the last two years since John White took over as Superintendent in our state is pure propaganda. Why should we believe this latest joke of a financial analysis? State Treasurer, John Kennedy has repeatedly pointed out that our Department of Education has numerous expensive contracts with consultants and companies that could be canceled saving us millions of tax dollars. That would be more than enough to pay for a return to Louisiana standards.

It totally amazes me that it should cost Louisiana one penny to simply drop this boondoggle of a program that only promises to cost us hundreds of millions to implement over the next few years!

Why do I say hundreds of millions? That's because if we continue this foolish rat race that is called the Common Core State Standards we will soon reaffirm what we already know. That is that Louisiana will rank near the bottom of the PARCC performance ranking compared to other states. (but wait: we already knew that based on the NAEP test. We know that we will rank second to last, just ahead of Mississippi because we rank just ahead of Mississippi in student poverty.)

But the plan is this: Once our students fail the PARCC test, we will have to rush to purchase more test prep services and allow more charter schools and approve more vouchers to allow more students to escape our “failing schools”. And then even when the students don't perform any better (or perform worse!) in the charters and voucher schools, our Superintendent will still find that it is OK because it is soooo important to give parents choice!

Look at how many were choosing the New Living Word voucher school even though it was not 
providing an education and the minister who had appointed himself principal was charging taxpayers an arm and a leg.

Pearson, the Great Briton based educational services company which helped control the development of the PARCC test and designs all sorts of software, and test prep materials designed for the PARCC will be extorting millions from Louisiana for both the testing and the test prep materials. Microsoft, boss Bill Gates who spent two billion dollars funding the development and selling of the Common Core stands to reap billions from services related to the Common Core. Apple will be selling us thousands of Ipads preloaded with test prep materials. Some companies will be selling us virtual courses that will take our MFP dollars so that some students can pretend to study common core at home using virtual courses with our tax dollars. Meanwhile our public schools will be laying off teachers and cutting salaries and benefits so they can afford to keep up with all the other states in buying more Common Core prep materials. This is all about the corporate takeover of public education! None of this will make our students better citizens, nor will it prepare them better for the workforce or make them better “human capitol”.

I just want to remind my readers that none of this Common Core material was tested in the classroom by real teachers. None of it is known to make students smarter or better because it is just a theory that has barely been tried with real students. None of the executives of the big companies like Exxon-Mobil who have endorsed Common Core have any idea what the standards are. (See this Advocate story) They have never even read the standards. I have read the standards and find them confusing, ambiguous, non-specific and not at all appropriate for many of our students. But what do I know? I've just devoted my whole life to the teaching profession! The leaders of big business support them because they were told by Bill Gates that these standards were more “rigorous” and that they would 
make their potential employees better and more efficient workers. But no one has the slightest idea whether that will happen because this system is just now being tested on our kids where students are 
simply being treated as guinea pigs and the teachers will be blamed if this latest hair brained program does not work.

Readers, this may be your best chance to have your voice heard by our legislators. Send an email now to the members of the House Education Committee (Just click on this link) to get the Representative who represents your Parish giving him/her your recommendations on Common Core and PARCC. (If you click on an individual's name you can get his email and office phone #)

Here are the bills that are scheduled for the House Education Committee this Wednesday, April 3:

HB 163 by Burns, HB 558 by Henry, and HB 996 by Schroeder would prohibit the use of the PARCC test and continues LEAP instead.

HB 988 by Schroder allows the State DOE and BESE to continue setting statewide content standards but permits local school boards to develop and implement their own curriculum content and methodology instead of that which is recommended by the LDOE.

HB 381 by Geymann creates a Louisiana Standards Commission to replace CCSS with state standards.

HB 1054 by Richard requires the teachers in all public schools and voucher schools to take the CCSS tests (this is really the PARCC test for Louisiana) prior to administering these tests to students.

Here's the deal:

  • If you want to stop using Common Core standards and PARCC testing in our schools and if you 
  • want the state to use a special commission made up of state educators and parents to set standards, to be implemented only after approval by both Houses of the Legislature, you should ask your State Representative to vote for HB 381 by Geymann. This bill would provide for assessments based on the new standards which would no longer need to be based on national standards. Special education students would be allowed to take an alternate assessments.
  • If you want to stop Louisiana from using the PARCC test, and to remove the language in the law that now requires us to use national standards in our K-12 schools, you should ask your State Representative to vote for either HB 163 or HB 558 or HB 996. These bills however as they are presently written would not necessarily prevent our LDOE and BESE from adopting changes to our GLEs that would possibly mirror the CCSS.
  • If you are willing to let the State DOE and BESE to continue setting standards including the implementation of the Common Core but you want your local school system to have more flexibility on curriculum and methodology you should ask your State Representative to vote for HB 988 by Schroeder.
  • I honestly don't know what to tell you about the Richard bill (HB 1054) which would require teachers to take the PARCC before the students do and then would inform the legislature of teacher opinions about the test. I think the bill might accomplish more if it required the legislature and BESE members to take the PARCC before we even consider giving it to our students. Look what happened in New York where 70% of the students failed PARCC!
No matter what you believe in about the Common Core standards and the PARCC test, if you don't express your opinion and ask your legislator to vote your way, then you probably deserve what will happen to you as Louisiana continues on the path to full implementation and testing of CCSS. Don't 
complain if you don't exercise your democratic rights!

lbarrios said...

The Richard bill is a good one in lieu of ending HIGH STAKES standardized testing, which is optimal. These tests should only be used as diagnostic indicators for teachers and schools to base instructional decisions on, not as punitive weapons to flunk students, fire teachers and close schools. The purpose of having teachers take and analyze their own grade/subject tests is to help them in aligning their curriculum and in class lesson plans to make sure they cover standards required and to provide expert analyses of these tests so that are a fair and equitable reflection f student learning. We have gone too many years now, since NCLB introduced consequential accountability, administering these mysterious tests that teachers and parents never get to see before if after administration and grading. Education is not a mystery. Teachers need the proper resources to guide them. Students need to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Parents need assurances that their children are being prepared for these tests and that the tests are accurately measuring what they claim to be designed to measure. If these high stakes tests continue, the issue will be moved to the courthouse and yet more taxpayer funding will be expended to prove that high stakes national testing is unreliable and invalid for these punitive purposes.

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