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Louisiana Lawmakers Strike Preliminary Deal Over Common Core

A deal worked out by several lawmakers in the Louisiana legislature would leave the Common Core State Standards in place, give the state school board the authority to develop new standards, and give state lawmakers and the governor the prerogative to reject standards proposed by the state board.

According to a fact sheet distributed by the Louisiana education department, the agreement worked out by legislators would also require the state to use an assessment, beginning in 2015-16, in which only a minority of questions can come from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), the federally funded test aligned to the common core. 

The deal could signal an approaching peace, or at least a cease-fire, in the long-running war over the common core and the PARCC test in Louisiana, where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal and some state lawmakers have fought vigorously against them for at least a year. But there's no clear indication that the governor will sign the legislation.

The standards-development process would also have to go through the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires a certain process for public oversight and comment. Critics of the state's adoption and implementation of the common core have said that the state board adopted the standards without seeking broad and extensive input, and its been cited in a lawsuit from common-core opponents challenging the state's adoption of the standards

Louisiana Superintendent John White was quick to claim that the deal, which will roll out over the course of this week in the House education committee, essentially recommits the state board to the review of the common core that it already agreed to earlier this year. (Legislators and the governor can reject the proposed standards, but don't have line-item veto power over what the state board proposes.) And crucially, White said in a conference call with reporters, common core will remain in place in the Pelican State under the proposed deal, even if state officials can't agree on the state's next set of standards.

"We are not going to make teachers go back and do this all over again," White said, referring to the creation of wholly new standards.

Of the four leading candidates to replace Jindal as governor starting next year, three of them have said they want Louisiana to drop the common core.

The state board adopted plan to review and potentially make changes to the common core, however, don't necessarily signal the end of the common core in any way. And the proposed deal legislators are discussing doesn't seem to constitute any sort of repeal. One of the lawmakers who negotiated this deal, Republican and common-core foe Rep. Brett Geymann, told me directly in a story last month that he wouldn't necessarily be unhappy with the common core being essentially re-adopted, as long as there's a new process through which its considered.  

However, Jindal's chief of staff, Kyle Plotkin, said in a statement that he was pleased that officials were working on a deal, but characterized the potential compromise as one that could "get Common Core out of Louisiana."

Plotkin expressed concern that the compromise could possibly lead the state to "revert" to the common core. 

"Secondly, there is concern about the commission set up by [the state school board] to come up with new Louisiana standards because some believe it is filled with Common Core supporters," Plotkin also said.

There was no explicit pledge that the governor would either approve or veto the deal under discussion. 

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