Most Of Louisiana Candidates For Governor Oppose Common Core

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Three of four contenders to be Louisiana's next governor criticized the state's use of the Common Core academic standards at an education forum Tuesday.

         The comments about the divisive, multistate English and math standards used in public school classrooms came during the Louisiana School Boards Association convention in Shreveport, according to The Advocate’s Will Sentell.

         "We can have high standards without Common Core," said Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite.

         Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Metairie, a one-time supporter of the standards, reiterated his more recent opposition to the overhaul, including the accompanying tests called PARCC. And Republican Scott Angelle, a member of the Public Service Commission from Breaux Bridge, announced his position against the standards, saying Common Core doesn't have a monopoly on high academic achievement.

         Only Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne stuck to his support for Common Core, and took several swipes at his rivals for their stances against the standards.

         "To slam the brakes on right now, to pledge we are going to change in the middle of the stream, is the wrong thing to do," he said.

         All four men hope to succeed Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who can't run this fall because of term limits. The election will be held Oct. 24.

         Common Core has been approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010 and 2014. But it's become a controversial issue both in Louisiana and around the country.

         Proponents say the standards adopted by more than 40 states raise student expectations and better prepare them for college and careers. Opponents say Common Core amounts to a federal government takeover of local education policies and curricula.

         Jindal, a former supporter of the multistate standards, has since become the state's top Common Core critic. Whether to replace the standards and the associated tests will be a key topic during the legislative session that begins on April 13.

         Also at the forum, state-issued letter grades for Louisiana's roughly 1,300 public schools came under fire from some candidates.

         Angelle said the state needs to stop issuing the grades until the methodology is improved, and he said the state Department of Education should be subject to an annual grade by the legislative auditor.

         "Because if it is good for the branch office it is good for the home office," Angelle said.

         Edwards, who opposed the letter grades when they cleared the Legislature, said he considers such marks invalid and thinks they undermine confidence in public schools.

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