Supporters of Common Core in Louisiana, where the fight over thestandards has been particularly fierce, won a substantial victoryover the weekend by retainingÂ control of thestate’s school board.
Eight spots on Louisiana’s Board of Elementary andSecondary Education (BESE) were up for election over the weekend.Six of them were won, often by bigÂ margins, by candidates who support Common Core, whilethe other two are headed to runoffs.Â Not only that, butthe two BESE members who were most vocally critical of Common Corewere both knocked from office.
With 11 total members of BESE (three are appointed by thegovernor), the results likely ensure a pro-Common Core majoritywill stay in place for the next four years, even though the twogubernatorial candidates headed to a runoff next month both opposeit.
The clash over Common Core and other education reform effortsisÂ extremely intense in the BayouState.Â Besides Common Core, reformers have alsosignificantlyÂ expanded charter schools, the use ofschool vouchers, and the use of standardized tests to evaluateteachers. In the last four years, these efforts have been led bystate schools superintendent John White, who was handpicked bycurrent Gov. Bobby Jindal for the role.
But since that appointment, Jindal has shifted from supportingCommon Core to being a strong opponent of it. That, in turn, hasmade him and White bitter enemies. Jindal attempted to repealCommon Core through a pair of executive orders, but White, backedby a majority of BESE, defied him, and so the standards remain inplace to this day. (RELATED: Bobby Jindal’s Common Core Crusade,Principle Or Opportunism?)
Saturday’s election results areÂ largely areferendum on White, and Saturday’s results areÂ avindication, meaning he will likely be able to remainsuperintendent since it takes an 8-vote BESE supermajority to forcea superintendent from office.
Despite their relatively low profile, the BESE races attractedmore than $3.5 million from pro-Common Core andpro-charter school groups that wanted to see Louisiana stay thecourse. Of that money, more than $800,000 came from former New Yorkmayor Michael Bloomberg, and $400,000 came from Walmart heirs Aliceand Jim Walton.
Earlier this year, Louisiana’s legislature passed acompromise measure to review Common Core and recommend possiblechanges to it. Since those changes will have to be approved byBESE, Saturday’s results mean the final product will likelybe extremely similar to Common Core rather than a big departure.(RELATED: Compromise Could End Common Core InLouisiana)
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