Schools in Louisiana start in less than a month, but teachers still don't know what they'll be teaching. That's because their governor, Bobby Jindal, wants to run for president, so he has turned his back on Common Core, the educational standards he championed two years ago. Now Jindal and the teachers are stuck in court. Good luck to the children of Louisiana, whose education system ranks among the worst in the nation.
Common Core is a broad-based educational reform created by academics, business leaders and America's governors — the majority of them Republicans like Jindal and Chris Christie. America's been failing at public education, and they felt it was time to fix it. But then President Obama agreed with them, and now Common Core has become just another communist plot. The Republican National Committee has contradicted its own governors and called for the abolition of the standards. And on July 22, Glenn Beck took over 700 movie theaters nationwide to induct an army of Common Core fighters.
Washington state is securely behind Common Core, but in Idaho, where Gov. Butch Otter supported the reforms, it could be short-lived. State Sen. John Goedde, who supported Common Core, was defeated by Mary Souza, who wants to kill it. This in a state that actually has a media campaign called "Don't Fail Idaho," paid for by business interests alarmed at the state's failing grades — 50th in the nation, for example, for having the fewest high schoolers going on to college.
Common Core aims to measure achievement, so that students in Idaho can compete with students in Washington, Louisiana and even Hong Kong. Bailing out is like saying Idaho doesn't want its kids to compete.
We have to measure achievement and set standards that will prepare our kids for this competitive world. I'm still not sold on the testing side of the equation, however. There's too much secrecy and money in it; tests are too stressful for kids and take up too much time. Still, smart, devoted educators can improve the testing process, as should be happening in Spokane Public Schools as they prepare to go live next spring.
But with Beck (a Washington state high school graduate who did not go on to college) and his kind apparently bored by the D.C. they have helped grind to a halt, now they're messing with our schools and our kids' lives. Reform is going to be hard enough without a bunch of political grandstanders heckling the process.
Or, as Sen. Goedde told us after his loss in May: "Raising standards students must meet to graduate is important, and rejecting those standards is asinine." ♦