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Details on La. Gov. Jindal’s Common Core and PARCC Exit

June 18, 2014

In a press release on June 18, 2014, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal made a number of statements regarding Louisiana’s participation in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the associated Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)– one of two assessment consortia (groups of states) connected to the CCSS.

Some have questioned whether Jindal is serious or just showcasing for the cameras.

He is serious.

Jindal Suspends PARCC

First, allow me to offer the text of the executive order that Jindal issued to the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) regarding the suspension of PARCC for the 2014-15 school year:

 

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. BJ 2014 – 6

BOARD OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION –

SUSPENSION OF STATEWIDE ASSESSMENT STANDARDS AND PRACTICES

RULE REVISIONS

 WHEREAS, pursuant to the provisions of Article IV, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, as amended, and La. R.S. 49:970, the Governor may issue an executive order which suspends any rule or regulation adopted by a state department, agency, board or commission within thirty days of adoption; and

 WHEREAS, on February 20, 2014, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education published a notice of intent in the Louisiana Register of proposed revisions to Bulletin 118—Statewide Assessment Standards and Practices (LAC 28:CXI.113); and

 WHEREAS, on May 20, 2014,  the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education published a final notice in the Louisiana Register to adopt revisions to Bulletin 118—Statewide Assessment Standards and Practices (LAC 28:CXI.113); and

 WHEREAS, the revisions to Bulletin 118—Statewide Assessment Standards and Practices (LAC 28:CXI.113), broadly construed, inappropriately instructs the Louisiana Department of Education to purchase assessments in a method that may not be compliant with Louisiana law, while also appropriately allowing the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to authorize  paper assessments in the 2014 – 2015 school year.

 NOW THEREFORE, I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

 SECTION 1:  The revisions to Bulletin 118—Statewide Assessment Standards and Practices (LAC 28:CXI.113), published as a final notice on May 20, 2014, are hereby suspended.

 SECTION 2:   The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is authorized and directed to implement a process to authorize paper assessments in the 2014-2015 school year.

 SECTION 3:   The Louisiana Department of Education, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and any other departments, commissions, boards, offices, entities, agencies, and officers of the State of Louisiana, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to comply with the suspension of the revisions to LAC 28:CXI.113 of this Order.

 SECTION 4:   This Order is effective upon signature and shall remain in effect unless amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded.

 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 18th day of June, 2014.

 /s/ Bobby Jindal______________

GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA

ATTEST BY

THE GOVERNOR

 /s/ Tom Schedler__________

SECRETARY OF STATE

[Emphasis added.]

Almost immediately, Louisiana State Superintendent John White issued his own press release stating that Louisiana would continue with CCSS and PARCC as planned. However, he hasn’t the legal backing to support this assertion.

Jindal’s suspension of PARCC occurred within thirty days of May 20, 2014– with one day to spare.

So, that takes care of one issue– suspension of PARCC.

Jindal pulled the funding for PARCC (first payment due August 31,2014). Apparently, White used the same contract for PARCC as was used for the iLEAP test in 2003. Suspicious.

Note also that on April 8, 2014, White told the Louisiana House Appropriations Committee that the PARCC MOU (memorandum of understanding) committed Louisiana to the design and development phase of PARCC– not to purchasing PARCC. (See partial transcript of the April 8 meeting here.)

White has produced no contract for Louisiana to purchase PARCC– which means that the BESE decision to adopt PARCC on May 20, 2014, is the only formal action taken to tie Louisiana to using PARCC.

And Jindal suspended that action, effective June 18, 2014.

Jindal is approving the paper assessments that BESE planned– which means districts are relieved of the stress (financial and otherwise) of offering computerized assessments in 2014-15.

Jindal Orders Competitive Bidding on Louisiana Assessments and Audit on PARCC Spending

A second executive order issued by Jindal orders BESE to conduct a bidding process for Louisiana assessments in accordance with Louisiana state law:

EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. BJ 2014 – 7

STATE PROCUREMENT OF ACADEMIC ASSESSMENTS

 WHEREAS, Article VII, Section 14 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 expresses the prohibition that “the funds, credit, property, or things of value of the state or of any political subdivision shall not be loaned, pledged, or donated to or for any person, association, or corporation, public or private.”;

 WHEREAS, elements of this constitutional prohibition reveal themselves in statutory mandates that public bodies conduct competitive procurement processes designed to promote public confidence in the cost and quality of goods, ensure transparency by requiring public notice, and safeguard the important public policy that public funds – always derived from taxpayers – be spent wisely;

WHEREAS, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are each subject to the Louisiana Procurement Code (La. R.S. 39:1551, et seq.), the laws on Professional, Personal, Consulting, and Social Services Contracts (La. R.S. 39:1481, et seq.), and other laws applicable to procurement by public bodies;

WHEREAS, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) and committed to purchase PARCC’s assessment product before the product was even developed and to utilize its Common Core aligned assessment product and adopt them into its accountability and teacher evaluation systems, without giving due consideration to the development of other comparable assessment products and thereby failing to undertake a transparent, competitive process;

WHEREAS, pursuant to La. R.S. 39:1708, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a cooperative purchasing agreement for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement;

 WHEREAS, participation in PARCC does not exempt the Department of Education or the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from following other Louisiana laws, promulgated rules, or Executive Orders applicable to the procurement of goods and services by purchase, contract, or by cooperative endeavor;

 WHEREAS, the chief procurement officer of the state has authority, pursuant to La. R.S. 39:1597, to determine that only one source is available to provide a required item. However, the determination that PARCC is the sole source of assessment products appears to be precluded in this case, as there are a number of potential competitors with assessment products available for review and comparison, making the use of a transparent, competitive process possible;

 WHEREAS, Louisiana Revised Statute 39:1497 requires that the director of the office of contractual review determine that all professional, personal, consulting, or social services have complied with the procedures set forth in La. R.S. 39:1481, et seq.;

WHEREAS, in accordance with La. R.S. 39:1596, Executive Order BJ 2010-16 establishes procedures for the procurement of small purchases not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) as exempt from the competitive sealed bidding requirements of the Louisiana Procurement Code, with purchases exceeding that amount requiring competitive sealed bidding and adequate prior notice;

 WHEREAS, the Legislature, during the 2014 Regular Session, has appropriated approximately $20,000,000 for the Department of Education to purchase these assessments for the 2014-2015 fiscal year commencing on July 1, 2014, and the expenditure of such a large amount of taxpayer-funded public funds clearly carries with it the responsibility that a transparent and competitive process be utilized.

 NOW THEREFORE, I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

 SECTION 1:  The Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are directed to undertake a transparent, competitive procurement process in accordance with Louisiana law to obtain academic assessments for Louisiana’s schoolchildren.

 SECTION 2:  The Division of Administration is directed to conduct a comprehensive accounting of all Louisiana expenditures and resources related to PARCC, what services and products have been received in return for such expenditures, and copies of all contracts or other agreements in place or in negotiation for the purchase of an assessment.  The Division of Administration is further directed to ensure the Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s compliance with Louisiana law in the procurement of academic assessments for the 2014-2015 school year and subsequent years.

 SECTION 3:  All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and officers of the state of Louisiana, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate in implementing the provisions of this Order.

 SECTION 4:  This Order is effective upon signature and shall continue in effect until amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the governor, or terminated by operation of law.

 IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 18th day of June, 2014.

 /s/ Bobby Jindal______________

GOVERNOR OF LOUISIANA

 ATTEST BY

THE GOVERNOR

 /s/ Tom Schedler_________

SECRETARY OF STATE

[Emphasis added.]

 

The second executive order above poses two issues for White: First, he must produce that PARCC MOU for PARCC purchase that he told the House Appropriations Committee doesn’t exist. (Either he secretly signed an agreement that he is not willing to publicize– which was the case with with inBloom— or he has no contract to tie Louisiana to purchasing PARCC.

Another issue is that White’s PARCC spending will be audited. On April 8, 2014, White told the House Appropriations Committee that the state education budget was $55 million short. It is time for White to produce a detailed accounting of his LDOE spending. Starting with PARCC is just fine.

Jindal Tells PARCC Consortium Louisiana is Out of PARCC and CCSS

The third and final document I will reproduce here is Jindal’s letter to the PARCC consortium. In it, he notes that he has contacted CCSS “owners,” the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSO) that he has withdrawn Louisiana from CCSS:

June 18, 2014

Dear Commissioner Chester,

 This letter is to request that the Partnership of Assessments for College and Career Readiness (PARCC) immediately withdraw from the State of Louisiana. The State of Louisiana is no longer committed to implementing the PARCC assessment in the 2014-15 school year, rendering it unable to comply with the terms of the June 2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the State and PARCC. In addition, several changes have occurred since the MOU was signed that make Louisiana’s membership in conflict with Louisiana law.

 First, PARCC’s Cooperative Agreement with the United States Department of Education (USDOE) includes terms that would remove Louisiana’s control over its assessments, and thereby its curriculum and pedagogy. While PARCC has assured states that curriculum is a local matter, the reality is what is assessed is what is taught and PARCC has a funding agreement with USDOE for $186 million. Laws enacted during the 2014 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature specifically authorize local education agencies to develop curriculum, content and methodology in lieu of any curriculum developed by the state board and prohibit the sharing of identifiable student information.

Second, there are several other vendors who have entered the market and who are now offering comparable assessment products at potentially lower cost and with greater input from, and accountability to, the individual states who hired them. Louisiana law requires the state to choose the lowest cost responsive bidder and to maintain control of the contract through which state taxpayer dollars will be expended. Neither of these criteria is met under the contracting arrangement of PARCC through a Fiscal Agent and/or Lead Procurement State.

 Third, several of the RFPs (requests for proposal) issued on behalf of PARCC were done so by other states, without the opportunity for Louisiana to ensure that these processes were handled in a method that complies with Louisiana’s competitive bid law. Louisiana’s MOU with PARCC and PARCC’s Cooperation Agreement with USDOE require PARCC to utilize competitive bid processes that comply with the laws of each member state and federal law.

Fourth, strict compliance with the MOU will prevent Louisiana from observing its competitive bid law for the procurement of the assessment itself. Louisiana law prohibits public procurement units from entering into cooperative purchasing agreements “for the purpose of circumventing” the Procurement Code (La. R.S. 39:1708). The MOU states specifically that each Governing State must agree to use the PARCC tests and to adopt them into its accountability and teacher evaluation systems, which is against Louisiana law if done without a competitive process. Louisiana cannot be a member of a cooperative purchasing agreement that requires, as a condition of membership, it buy the agreement’s product, especially before the product was even developed, and at an unknown cost at the time of execution.

Therefore, I have taken the following actions to ensure that Louisiana maintains control of its assessments and complies with its own laws:

 1. I have issued an executive order that instructs the Louisiana Department of Education to conduct a competitive process to purchase a new assessment and which prohibits the expenditure of funds on cooperative group purchasing organizations and interstate agreements.

 2. I have suspended the rules adopted by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education from May 2014 to ensure that the Louisiana Department of Education is able to comply with Louisiana competitive bid law;

 3. I have instructed the Louisiana Division of Administration to conduct a comprehensive accounting of all Louisiana expenditures and resources on PARCC, what services or products have been received in return for such expenditures, and copies of all contracts in place or in negotiation for the purchase of an assessment.

4. I have issued a Request for Information to PARCC requesting information about the procurement processes utilized by the consortium, by the Fiscal Agent state, and by the Lead Procurement State to ensure that these processes complied with Louisiana law.

 5. I have notified the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governor’s Association (NGA) of Louisiana’s termination of participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

I will pursue cancellation of this MOU through all means necessary.

Sincerely,

Bobby Jindal

Governor

[Emphasis added.]

The curiosity here is that Jindal refers to a PARCC MOU signed in 2010 and that obligates Louisiana to purchase PARCC. Within his first month as state superintendent, White signed the PARCC MOU in place of outgoing superintendent Pastorek. However, we’re back to the issue of whether or not the PARCC MOU was an agreement to pilot or to purchase PARCC. However, Jindal has stated that he removed Louisiana from CCSS, and PARCC is tied to CCSS. Also, Jindal notes that in the competitive bidding process for assessments’ he is restricting the search to assessment companies not associated with consortia.

Closing Thoughts

So, what we have is Jindal serious about removing Louisiana from both CCSS and PARCC and White stating that Louisiana will remain in both CCSS and PARCC.

Which is it?

It appears that Jindal has solid legal footing for nixing PARCC assessments in Louisiana. I also think White is in a corner with both having to produce a PARCC MOU requiring purchase of PARCC (which he told the House Appropriations is not the case) and, especially, White’s being audited over PARCC spending.

As for canceling CCSS, Jindal is the only remaining signator on the CCSS MOU signed with NGA and CCSSO (Pastorek was the other signator). So, it seems that Jindal can remove us from CCSS. BESE did vote to approve CCSS in 2010. And that leads to another interesting situation:

BESE is in the middle of this “Jindal vs. White” altercation.

BESE President Chas Roemer supports White, and the majority of the eleven BESE members have supported CCSS. However, that majority is as shaky as it has been since the last BESE election over two years ago. Jindal has three appointees on the BESE board; two have supported CCSS, and Jindal could ask them to resign (he can’t require it). Given recent developments, we’ll see which way those two Jindal appointees supporting CCSS will go. One of his appointees, Jane Smith, is opposed to CCSS. Also on the BESE board are Lottie Beebe and Carolyn Hill, both against CCSS. And there is Walter Lee, indicted in January 2014 on felony theft and other charges and who is known to be unpredictable in his BESE positions.

In short, it is possible that a BESE majority could vote out CCSS– or even White.

In a twist, former state superintendent Paul Pastorek has decided to return to Louisiana ostensibly to start an education company. However, the timing is suspicious. Pastorek is a CCSS supporter (he and Jindal signed Louisiana on for CCSS in May 2009) and a Jeb Bush Chief for Change.

It is possible that Pastorek has returned to be the backup plan for White’s departure for those wishing to keep CCSS.

Keep in mind that business and industry are pushing for CCSS. So are scores of organizations that have received CCSS funding from the Gates Foundation. So, the pressure will continue to be on Jindal–and of course, it will also come from US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The entire nation is watching Louisiana.

It promises to be an interesting summer– especially for curriculum and assessment directors statewide.

________________________________________________________________

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37 Comments
  1. Vicky permalink

    Good one Mercedes!

  2. Another great piece, even for those in another state (NY).

  3. 25 year educator Jane permalink

    How come some part of me thinks Jindal and White are somehow still playing us–muddying the water again for their political gain? I just don’t see these two as being adversaries.

    • This division is for real. I have off-the-record info that confirms it.

      • Gentlemen’s agreement to avoid a duel. The lesser saves face in case the roles are reversed in the future.

      • No saving face here for White. His butt is on the hot seat. His PARCC funding has been frozen and is being audited.

      • Agreed, Mercedes. Meant what was said in front of the camera.

      • It seems things “cooled” between them about the time of the “Seabough solution” (sp?). Tone changed slightly, and rumors began then. This is culmination. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

      • Jon Lubar permalink

        When you say that you have off the record info that confirms that the division is real, I believe you. I too thought, and still can’t quite let go of the idea that this is all smoke and mirrors. There are too many escape hatches for both Jindal and White in this situation, too many viable ways forward, at least for their careers if not also for a set of standards and the testing to go along with them. I remain suspicious that Jindal is hoping for the invisible hand to break free from the cronyism that has made it a laughing stock since right after Uncle Milton came up with the idea, in other words, Jindal is hoping an actual free market solution will help him rebrand standards and testing in LA and let him use a different part of the testing industrial complex to do all that. He’s betting glomming onto the energy of the Teaparty rather than hiding within the torpor of the republicans. Two parties of stupid nevertheless. I wonder what White will be blamed for in the future, if Jindal will suddenly discover that “reform” in LA has not lived up to the hype. As a bonus thought, Michelle Rhee has to be gulping down Tums due to this, $tudent$ La$t having given LA the highest mark in the nation for their reforminess and all that.

  4. Texastitle1teacher permalink

    Maybe all these reformers will suddenly start to turn on each other as things continue to implode…

  5. Michele permalink

    You’d better believe we’re watching, Mercedes!

  6. Peggy Schwarz permalink

    Ever feel like your living in a Tennessee Williams play? The plot thickens….

  7. Candyce Watsey permalink

    Thanks for such a clear explanation of this evolving saga. One of my wishes now is that more teachers will be emboldened to speak out.

  8. Steve permalink

    Excellent presentation of information on this issue! I am a teacher and I knew from the beginning that ccss was a sham! I’m confident that my state of Louisiana will be out of this mess! Keep up the great work!

  9. La. Ed. Watcher permalink

    I can buy that maybe BJ is serious and White/Roemer are blocking him. But, this part makes no sense –

    “It is possible that Pastorek has returned to be the backup plan for White’s departure for those wishing to keep CCSS.”

    If the whole reason for removing White is to ease the way for La. to get out of CCSS and PARCC, then why install a pro-CCSS supt. in his place. Otherwise, why not just keep White.

    And how in the world would they get 8 votes to reinstall PP? They def. don’t have that. Imagine the horror of the education community and parents that have now gotten more aware and active since PP’s original reign. I personally think that would be re-election suicide for anyone thinking about running again, and there’s no love btwn PP and Roemer.

    It’s possible PP will be involved in any legal dealings the Board initiates in response to BJ’s attempt to remove La. from the consortium. He did say in his last interview that he will be working on education-related lawsuits.

    • There are two factions fighting. Those supporting White might anticipate his departure and be trying to position Pastorek to be appointed in his place. A BESE member voting White out does not nullify the possibility of the same member voting Pastorek in. Deals are being made, and not just by people in education or even in Louisiana.

  10. Lauri Duhon permalink

    You can also add a few details about BESE board member Holly Boffy, her main campaign contributor was Mayor Bloomburg of inBloom. She sits on an advisory board that is pro common core so how is her vote not bought and sold. She makes 100k a year with this position and brags that it pays her mortgage. This job went before ethics board and they deemed that the position would not interfere with her voting. Still giving her a non-bias stance. I beg to differ how you can be non-bias if they are sending you a paycheck to endorse them.

  11. Mike permalink

    Very good read.

  12. Reblogged this on Crazy Crawfish's Blog and commented:
    Great in depth analysis of latest PARCC and Commob Core events in Louisiana by our own edu-celebrity – Dr Mercedes Schneider.

  13. cmzirkelbach permalink

    The issue of the Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential in NYS has very little coverage. The Regents, who are reasonable for the CDOS meet on June 23. http://workingmomfromnys.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/career-development-and-occupational-studies-commencement-credential/

    Christine Zirkelbach

  14. I smell a rat in all of this. The Chairperson of NGA repeals Common Core? Good buddy to Jeb Bush, Bobbie Jindal repeals Common Core? Sorry people but we are being taken for another ride down deception lane. These people have no intentions of getting rid of Common Core. Do you really think Duncan is just going to roll over and allow this? PLEASE PLEASE we were are being taken advantage of AGAIN. The only way to stop the destruction of our children and education there is sadly only 1 choice and that is to get your kids out of the system. You CANNOT stop what has been in the works for 100 years. Sorry but there is no easy way out of this mess. The only way is for parents to step up and take charge of their children’s education. Charters are the Trojan horse of Common Core. They are being used by the government to destroy private education. Private schools are closing everyday because of Charters. Parents think Charters are different than traditional public schools. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. Good people that open Charters for the right reasons are and will be squeezed out by big business in the future. WHY do you think Obama, Duncan are pushing them. Home school is the next on their hit list and you can take that to the bank. Why are Gates, Walton and Broad so heavily invested in Charter organization$??? WAKE UP. You are again being fooled. Someday you will look back on these words and be very sorry you didn’t get your kids out when you had the chance.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  5. Ed News, June 20, 2014 Edition | tigersteach
  6. Common Core Memorandum of Understanding Not Just for ‘Development’ | BusinessMediaguide.Com
  7. Further Investigations of LDOE and John White are Warranted and Long Overdue | Crazy Crawfish's Blog
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  11. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal ‘Scheme’? | The News On Time
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  13. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal 'Scheme'? | Mercedes Schneider
  14. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal ‘Scheme’? | LUYOL
  15. Does Jindal Have a Case With Common Core as Federal ‘Scheme’? | General Education Guide

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