Bid to dismantle Common Core standards fails

Notes from the La. Legislature's regular session

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Another effort to dismantle Louisiana's use of the Common Core education standards has been defeated, this time by a resounding vote Thursday of the Senate Education Committee.
The panel voted 6-1 against the bill (Senate Bill 669) by Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, which would have created a state commission to develop Louisiana-specific content standards and associated testing. Only Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, voted to support the proposal.
The grade-by-grade benchmarks have been adopted by most states of what students should learn in English and math. They are being phased in to Louisiana's public school classrooms, with the new standardized tests set to be used in third grade through eighth grade next year.
Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking, raise expectations for students and allow for comparison of student performance across states. Opponents say the standards are part of an inappropriate, one-size-fits-all model that would nationalize education and jeopardize student privacy.
Crowe said parents and teachers are unhappy with the new standards, and he said the volume of complaints would only get louder if lawmakers don't force change.
"These people are screaming from the tops of mountains to do something," he said after hours of often emotional testimony.
Senators said shelving the standards would create disruption in classrooms and would keep students from being able to be graded against students from other states.
The House Education Committee already had rejected similar legislation.
Gov. Bobby Jindal supports scrapping Common Core and its associated testing, but the move is opposed by Chas Roemer, the president of the state education board, and Superintendent of Education John White.
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A $5.7 billion, multi-year state construction budget started advancing Thursday in the Legislature, getting approval from the House Ways and Means Committee.
Louisiana has a cap on annual borrowing that limits spending on construction projects to $355 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The Jindal administration proposed a list of projects to use up all that capacity and $120 million more, when submitting the bill (House Bill 2) to lawmakers.
The House committee reworked those plans, stripping dollars set aside for statewide roofing and building repairs and for two economic development funds that are used to attract projects to the state.
As backed by the House panel, the construction budget contains $18 million more than the state has money to spend, said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux, R-Lafayette. That leaves the governor's office to determine which projects would be submitted to the State Bond Commission for lines of credit.
The "capital outlay" bill also includes federal highway money and other funding sources set aside for state construction.
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People would be prohibited from having dogs loose in the back of a truck when driving on an interstate, under a House-passed bill that received support Thursday from the Senate transportation committee.
Senators on the committee approved the measure (House Bill 1091) by Rep. Tom Willmott, R-Kenner, without objection. It would require dogs traveling in the bed of a truck on the interstate to be humanely secured with a leash, kennel or a bed truck cover.
Committee Chairman Robert Adley, R-Benton, supported the measure, saying it was one thing to drive with a dog in the back of a truck around the neighborhood and another to drive on the interstate. "It's serious," he said.
The proposal will move next to the Senate floor for consideration. Willmott has proposed similar bills before, but they failed to garner enough support for final passage.
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In other legislative action:
—The House voted 96-0 for a $168 million, standstill budget for the state's judiciary in the upcoming budget year that begins July 1 and 95-0 for a $98.4 million budget to finance the House, Senate and other legislative agencies next year. The legislative budget has a $6 million increase. The bills (House Bill 1095 and House Bill 1194) move next to the Senate for debate.

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