My Local Teachers Union President and Superintendent Stand Against Common Core and PARCC
On Friday, November 1, 2013, I had the following letter in my school mailbox from St. Tammany Federation of Teachers President Elsie Burkhalter. In it, both Burkhalter and St. Tammany Schools Superintendent Trey Folse publicly support the St. Tammany School Board resolution to opt out of both the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the associated PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing. The St. Tammany School Board unanimously approved the anti-CCSS resolution on October 10, 2013.
Here is the text of the resolution (photographed below):
WHEREAS, the St. Tammany Parish Public School System provides a caring environment for learning, a challenging and relevant curriculum, innovative instruction and solid student achievement; and
WHEREAS, the majority of the St. Tammany Parish School Board opposed the Common Core State Standards since the idea was first introduced to the State of Louisiana through the rejection of a Race to the Top agreement in January of 2010; and
WHEREAS, constant commitment to improvement and high performance has made the St. Tammany Parish Public School System a leader in the State of Louisiana, by all major standards of educational excellence; and
WHEREAS, the members of the St. Tammany Parish School Board, duly elected by the citizens of the parish, believe that education is not the mandate of the Federal Government or any national board; and
WHEREAS, the St. Tammany Parish School Board believes that the Common Core State Standards were implemented too quickly, are not perfect standards, and may not reflect the norms of our community in all cases; and
WHEREAS, significant time, effort and expense is associated with the modification of St. Tammany’s Guaranteed Curriculum to comply with the Common Core requirements and its implementation; and
WHEREAS, major investments to equipment and upgrades to our infrastructure are required to comply with the requirements of PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers); and
WHEREAS, the cost of the actual assessments is significantly more expensive than the current assessment especially since it will cover all grade levels and this will be an ongoing expense that imposes an undue burden to our School System; and this is another unfunded mandate on the St. Tammany Parish Public School System; and
WHEREAS, we do not currently believe that the St. Tammany Parish Public School System has objectionable material in any of our existing and proposed curriculum; however, we do furthermore encourage all parents, teachers, and administrators to elevate concerns of material in the curriculum to the Principals, Superintendent, and School Board Members; and
WHEREAS, the St. Tammany Parish School Board objects to the collection and sharing of massive amounts of students’ data required to be shared through the PARCC or any other agreement which violates student privacy; and
WHEREAS, our belief is that Common Core State Standards do not justify the disruption to instruction, accountability, professional development and teacher preparation that follows adoption of these standards and PARCC assessments in our system; and we further believe that the Guaranteed Curriculum, state approved, adopted and implemented in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System meets the needs of every child, every day in St. Tammany Parish.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the St. Tammany Parish School Board does hereby request that Governor Bobby Jindal, State Superintendent of Education John White and members of BESE remove the St. Tammany Parish Public School System and the other School Districts in Louisiana from the implementation of CCSS and PARCC testing.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that if Governor Bobby Jindal, State Superintendent of Education John White and members of BESE do not take this action, the St. Tammany Parish School Board does hereby respectfully request members of the Louisiana Legislature use their authority to remove the St. Tammany Parish Public School System and the other School Districts in Louisiana from the implementation of CCSS and PARCC testing.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be spread upon the official minutes of this Board, with copies being sent to Governor Bobby Jindal, State Superintendent of Education John White, members of BESE, all members of the Louisiana Legislature and all schools in the St. Tammany Parish Public School System. [Emphasis added.]
(Easier to read, scanned copy here.)
In response to St Tammany’s drafting the resolution, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) pushed CCSS in a tour of St. Tammany Schools in late October. The tour did not go well, with State Superintendent John White being met with lawn signs protesting his intent to push CCSS.
This obvious resistance against CCSS did not make the local news.
Such calculated media silence makes me all the more grateful to find a letter in my box noting that my local union president and my superintendent are now formally on the record as opposing both CCSS and PARCC.
Thank you, Ms. Burkhalter and Mr. Folse.
A SECOND LOUISIANA DISTRICT, WASHINGTON PARISH, WANTS OUT OF BOTH CCSS AND PARCC: