Updates for La. Common Core/ PARCC Lawsuits– Including Fresh Spin from John White
The State of Louisiana is currently involved in three lawsuits over the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and/or the CCSS testing consortium assessments belonging to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
Here is a brief update of the entire affair:
Lawsuit One Update
On August 13, 2014, Judge Todd Hernandez denied the pro-CCSS heavily-charter-backed plaintiffs in a suit being funded by the national “choice” group, BAEO (Black Alliance for Educational Options) the option of deposing the high-ranking state officials that are listed as defendants in the suit, including Governor Jindal:
District Judge Todd Hernandez agreed with Jindal attorney Jimmy Faircloth, who argued Tuesday that the governor could not be deposed in the lawsuit.
He extended that protection to the other defendants, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and Office of Contractual Review interim director Pamela Barfay Rice, and to OCR auditor Marsha V. Guedry, all of whom are represented by attorney Greg Murphy.
However, Hernandez did allow for the state to sue itself given that the state board of education (BESE) voted to join the pro-CCSS lawsuit on July 29, 2014.
On Monday, August 18, 2014, Hernandez will hear arguments regarding whether or not to issue a temporary injunction against Jindal’s June 18, 2014, decision to prevent BESE and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) from purchasing the PARCC assessment.
So that’s the status of one lawsuit.
UPDATE 08-18-14: Hernandez heard arguments but did not rule on a temporary injunction.
Lawsuit Two Update
The second lawsuit involves the July 21, 2014 filing by 17 Louisiana legislators against BESE for failing to follow the Administrative Procedures Act in adopting CCSS in 2010. (Read here for more nuances of argument in the case.)
On Friday, August 15, 2014, Judge Tim Kelley denied a temporary injunction against CCSS:
Kelley, after listening to arguments from attorneys for both sides and hearing directly from Superintendent of Education John White and BESE President Chas Roemer, denied the legislators’ request for a preliminary injunction but said they have the right to ask that the implementation of Common Core in the state be permanently enjoined (i.e., prohibited). … [Clarification added.]
Kelley stressed that his ruling was not a comment on the merits of Common Core itself.
Of course, White and Roemer billed this as a “win.” However, Kelley noted that CCSS is “a political hot button.” I’m guessing both he and Hernandez would rather not be put in the middle of the current CCSS “state leading.”
Lawsuit Three: Stay Tuned
The third lawsuit involves Jindal countersuing BESE for its involvement in PARCC and includes asking for an injunction against state usage of CCSS tests. This lawsuit has yet to go to court.
In for the Long Haul
So, there we have state-led harmony over Louisiana education matters.
Legal decisions regarding the presence of CCSS and PARCC in Louisiana will not end quickly.
As the lawsuits proceed, expect appeals to whatever judgments the courts decide.
Meanwhile, during the time that the state is busy fighting itself, I have had the smoothest beginning of the school year since 2011.
Utter Assessment Dependence vs. “Aspirational” CCSS
Before I exit this post, let me offer a couple of observations on what is appearing in the press regarding the Louisiana CCSS/PARCC legal dance marathon:
The entire litigation shows just how test dependent Louisiana education has become to the educrats and other educationists. Consider this excerpt from The Town Talk regarding the pro-CCSS lawsuit:
The plaintiffs filed suit after Jindal issued executive orders blocking the purchase of a test that is to be used to measure student success used in the state accountability program.
They argue that without a test that meets state law requiring measurement of nationally comparative standards, the state cannot have an accountability program that decides whether students can move from fourth and eighth grades, whether schools can be evaluated and from which schools parents can transfer students to the statewide voucher program because of their grading. [Emphasis added.]
Keep in mind that this is the lawsuit funded by the “choice” group, BAEO.
“Choice” cannot happen without standardized tests to direct it–really?? The truth is, consequences cannot be levied against students, teachers, and schools without the standardized test scores necessary to damn them.
Such makes for an undeniably punitive, really expensive (in time and money), narrowly defined, sorry promotion of “choice.”
But now comes my favorite line in all of the links cited with this post– and it is spoken by none other that our slimy, shape-shifting educationist superintendent, John “Look, there’s mud in my narrative!” White.
It is an easy-to-overlook, a two-word alteration regarding the definition of CCSS as reported in the Advocate and as stated by White as he testified in court on August 15, 2014, on the issue of the 17 legislators’ seeking a temporary injunction against CCSS:
White testified concerning the legislators’ Administrative Procedures Act argument that, in 2010, Common Core was not a proposed rule that needed to be published in the Louisiana Register but was instead a set of content standards.
“It is a set of aspirational benchmarks,” he said. [Emphasis added.]
It’s that first word of the two that has my attention.
The CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) does not declare CCSS as “aspirational.” On the contrary, CCSS is declared as the practical and intended hub for test-driven, definitely consequential, so-called “reform.” As I note in a previous post on CCSS creation and intention:
Here is the opening paragraph of the CCSS MOU (see p. 128):
Purpose: This document commits states to a state-led process that will draw on evidence and lead to development and adoption of a common core of state standards (common core) in English language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. These standards will be aligned with college and work expectations, include rigorous content and skills, and be internationally benchmarked. The intent is that these standards will be aligned to state assessment and classroom practice. The second phase of this initiative will be the development of common assessments aligned to the core standards developed through this process. [Emphasis added.]
Thus, from the outset of the CCSS MOU, the intent to develop and adopt CCSS and connect CCSS curriculum and CCSS assessments is made clear.
The rationale behind the BAEO-funded, pro-CCSS lawsuit is that the CCSS assessments are a must in order for public education to function in Louisiana.
The CCSS MOU confirms the intent of CCSS as high-stakes, test-driven “reform.”
Yet now, White calls CCSS “aspirational.”
I guess its more difficult to argue that LDOE and BESE slighted public input on a CCSS that is tourniquet-tied to high-stakes-assessment-driven outcomes than it is to present CCSS as hypothetical-theoretical, removed-from-practical-consequences aspirational, huh, John?
But you, and I, and the public know that “aspirational” is not how the CCSS website presents CCSS to parents:
Today’s students are preparing to enter a world in which colleges and businesses are demanding more than ever before. To ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kindergarten through 12thgrade.
The standards were drafted by experts and teachers from across the country and are designed to ensure students are prepared for today’s entry-level careers, freshman-level college courses, and workforce training programs. [Emphasis added.]
According to the CCSS website, CCSS is insurance that ALL students are prepared for whatever paths they take when exiting high school.
I will tell you who thought CCSS was “aspirational” when she was involved in CCSS development:
Psychologist Louisa Moats.
She was all for CCSS until she realized that these supposedly “aspirational” standards she helped to write were intended to be bound to high-stakes assessments.
Then she decided she could no longer support CCSS.
In a January 2014 Huffington Post interview with behavioral pediatrician Mark Bertin, Moats observes:
I never imagined when we were drafting standards in 2010 that major financial support would be funneled immediately into the development of standards-related tests. How naïve I was. The CCSS represent lofty aspirational goals for students aiming for four year, highly selective colleges. Realistically, at least half, if not the majority, of students are not going to meet those standards as written….
Our lofty standards are appropriate for the most academically able, but what are we going to do for the huge numbers of kids that are going to “fail” the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) test? We need to create a wide range of educational choices and pathways to high school graduation, employment and citizenship. [Emphasis added.]
It seems that the CCSS developers might have been given one story about CCSS (as “aspirational”) while being kept in the dark regarding the original intent of CCSS as a high-stakes-assessment framework.
A Word Upon Exiting
The lawsuits will continue, and so will the attempted sell of CCSS and PARCC as indispensable to Louisiana education. I am particularly interested in how the judge will handle the request for temporary injunction against Jindal for halting PARCC funding, to be heard Monday, August 18. It is not as though BESE and White have a sound testing contract already in place to fall back on. Plus, the Division of Administration (DOA) already approved a new request for proposal (RFP) process as requested by three BESE members– with the stipulation that additional individuals must be involved in the process.
And so, the future of Louisiana public education fastens its roller skates in preparation for what those outside of our classrooms know is best for us:
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