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Are 67 Louisiana Districts Fine with CCSS?

January 14, 2015

Barry Erwin is the president of Council for a Better Louisiana (CABL), a nonprofit that not only supports the Common Core State Standards (CCSS); it does so actively, offering its opinion that “Louisiana should not backtrack on the standards” because of the now-common spiel that CCSS will offer Louisiana (indeed, the entire U S of A) “better preparation” for that 21st-century “highly skilled workforce that is both nationally and globally competitive.”

In February 2014, I was on a CCSS panel with Barry Erwin. When Erwin was asked a question about CCSS not preparing students for STEM careers, he said he could not answer the question because he did not understand it.

STEM: science-technology-engineering-mathematics.

This guy who is president of an organization pushing CCSS as the solution to “better prepare” students for the “nationally and globally competitive workforce,” and he went into a debate unfamiliar with the term “STEM careers.”

Erwin also stammered when I brought up the subject of the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) job projections as not befitting citizens with college educations:

As for business leader Barry Erwin, the other CCSS supporter on the February 4th panel, CCSS is the solution for filling those 21st-century jobs with qualified Louisiana graduates.

It certainly sounds good– except that the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) projects that in 2016, the top three available jobs in Louisiana will be cashier, retail sales, and waiter/waitress.

The first job on the list requiring a bachelors degree for entry level is ranked eleven: elementary school teacher. What irony.

When I stated the above information in my opening remarks, Erwin became upset. He said that he knows a business owner who will have jobs available (implication being those “college and career ready” jobs supposedly the result of CCSS education).

Those kinds of jobs– the ones requiring college degrees upon entry– are on the LWC 2016 projections list. However, they tend to be much further down the list– which means a much lower demand for such jobs. Indeed, many of the 2016 projected jobs that will require a four-year-college degree in Louisiana are expected to have a demand of 50 or fewer jobs per annum– which means less than one such job available per year per Louisiana parish (we have 64 parishes).

So, that is my firsthand experience with CABL CEO Barry Erwin and his push for a CCSS that he cannot competently discuss as a solution for a Louisiana economic situation that cannot be band-aided by CCSS.

But Erwin is still pushing for CCSS. On January 14, 2015, Erwin was in the American Press opinion pages regarding CCSS:

CABL has been an outspoken proponent of the standards since they were adopted in 2010. Over time, Erwin said teachers and students statewide have become accustomed to the standards, which are now in the second year of full implementation.

Erwin said there aren’t a lot of complaints statewide about Common Core, except in Calcasieu and St. Tammany parishes.

“That’s not to say you won’t find people that aren’t concerned about it and will come out to a town hall meeting,” he said. “But they tend to be the same people, and they travel around the state. We never hear anyone complaining about particular standards.”

Erwin said the standards are simply what students need to know when they reach a certain grade level. He said individual school districts choose the curriculum to teach.

He said many school districts are pleased with the results they are getting because of Common Core.

“If you look at most of the highest-performing school districts in our state — Ascension, West Feliciana, Jefferson — they are the ones who have embraced it wholeheartedly,” Erwin said.

Erwin states that “most” of the highest-performing districts in our state “wholeheartedly embrace” CCSS.  His evidence? Three parishes.

He insinuates that only two districts out of sixty-nine have a problem with CCSS: St. Tammany and Calcasieu.

Here it is again:

Erwin said there aren’t a lot of complaints statewide about Common Core, except in Calcasieu and St. Tammany parishes.

So, here’s my question to my Louisiana readers:

Do any of the remaining 67 school districts have an issue with CCSS? Any formal resolutions against CCSS and its testing (the two were designed to be inseparable)? Or is Erwin right: Are St. Tammany and Calcasieu the primary sources for CCSS discontent in the state of Louisiana?

Anyone in Ascension, Jefferson, and West Feliciana who has issues with CCSS, or have you truly “wholeheartedly embraced” it?

Does anyone statewide “have problems with particular standards”?

Please leave a comment to this post, and include your district.



Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education

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  1. Evelyn Smith permalink

    I have a problem with Common Core Standards, because our country was founded with the belief in the freedom and the rights of the individual, not for the standardizing of our children into one mold to become robots for the profit and power of the corporate and government elite.

    I also have no desire to see our children become competitive in the world wide workforce, since that only means the US is joining into a collective communist worldwide system of education that does not educate the children, but only trains and dumbs down the workforce for the jobs the government – corporate partnerships determine they should have. This is the goal of agenda 21 which uses the pisa test to determine if the children passes the key competency of the collective attitude, belief and sustainability.

  2. Caryn Jenkins permalink

    Desoto Parish – I have major issues with the standards! They are completely developmentally inappropriate for my first grader. She is still in the concrete stage of development and yet they are attempting to force her frontal lobe to do things that it is not even developed enough for. They aim to teach our kids critical thinking at too early of an age and are a slap in the face of scientific evidence that shows that factual, memorization-based learning promotes long term memory. Are we going to have a generation of kids that have brains like sieves because these standards didn’t allow them to develop long term memory? Who knows, because no one thought it would be prudent to study these standards before implementing them.

    I have issues with the standards because my son who is in gifted and AP classes now has to go to counseling because no one found it prudent to notice that not all brains think the same way. Even the term “standard” sets the aim at homogenous education. No two minds are alike yet these standards assume and treat every child the same. All of this in the name of “let’s make it easier to compare data across the US and make it easier for people to move.” So my son can make the grade just like before, but we have to pay a lot of money to go have someone convince him that he is not a failure. And these standards repetitively tell him that he is a failure because a major CCSS implementation tool is to push him to his PZD (proximal zone of development) which he interprets as failure. So much of how he is assessed pushes him to failure in the guise of trying to assess how much he knows.

    So please share with Mr.Erwin, Mr.White, Ms.Holly Boffy, and all of the other people who refuse to wake up and truly listen to the parents all over Louisiana and around the United States that these standards are mentally and emotionally abusive to children.

    • BossierMomofTwo permalink

      I agree wholeheartedly! Both of mine are receiving accommodations and one is on medications. They are not ready developmentally and I feel this rigorous teaching is abusive to these children.

  3. Stacey Daniels permalink

    Caddo Parish approved a resolution at the last board meeting. It can be found on the website in the board docs section. As a teacher in Caddo, I am against CC and associated testing! As a parent of a Bossier Parish child, I hate it! My son is having problems now and I have talked to many parents and other teachers in both parishes that are against CC and PARCC. I am not going to post details here because as a gifted child he thinks he is stupid – thanks to CC. I had a doctor of psychology with a math background tell me the math his second grader is being taught doesn’t make sense and is crap. Another grandparent shared her granddaughter is now having episodes of passing out with no found medical reason, but feel it’s stress and anxiety. I have heard too many of these heartbreaking stories from parents in tears over their children.
    But, just say this…
    Principal Mary Harris wanted to make sure there would be no conflict with the Caddo PSB and/or the superintendent by accepting the appointed position on the BESE board. She has clearly stated she is against CC and the testing. She is representing north LA going against John White.
    There have been meetings here that were well represented and they were people that live in this area, not just a pack traveling the state. My understanding is Bossier is very close to a resolution, also.

  4. Barry Erwin has spent his entire professional life as a paid shill. First , he was a journalist paid to push big government programs, now this. There isn’t anything that passes his lips that has a shred of truth to it.

  5. Lauri Duhon permalink

    We as parents DO NOT support common core and PARCC. This movement will forever destroy public education amd fundamentally turn it into a business vs. a nation raising leaders, inventors, scientist, and teachers. This set of standards and the methods is which they are being taught are the unproven, full of errors in the text and frankly not true. History is being altered down to our Amendments and rights. The developmental gaps in the early years is already already surfacing and causing problems. Every person I talk to is against common core and PARCC. We are basically turning over the education of our children to the federal government. The overreach into the classrooms is disgusting. These standards will ruin our next generation and take all of the fire out of them and turn them into mindless worker bees. Our children deserve better, but not at the hands of the federal government and people who know nothing about education.

  6. Peggy Schwarz permalink

    St. Bernard – the majority of teachers dislike it (or hate it) & feel that students are not learning as well as prior to the adoption of CCSS. Unfortunately for us, however, the district administrators love it b/c they have taken lots of cash from Bill Gates via a literacy grant. Teacher voices are not being heard much in St. Bernard.

    Another reason that proponents of CCSS can claim that there is minimal opposition to Common Core is that their strategy of overwhelming teachers with scripted lessons, fine-print rubrics, on-going testing & CONSTANT CHANGES to the plan, leaves no time or stamina to express discontent.

    Also whatever teachers in any parish say, the local mainstream media only covers what LABI & politicians have to say about education. When was the last time a teacher was on WWL-Radio talking about Education? Probably when Mercedes was last on b/c she graciously agreed to speak at the last minute.

    A lot of parents are also not happy b/c their kids are frustrated with developmentally inappropriate tasks & assignments – especially in the lower grades.

  7. gennieleko permalink

    Jefferson Parish here. He says that people don’t have an issue with particular standards. I actually have quite a list but my personal favorite is….

    Add and subtract within 1000, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method. Understand that in adding or subtracting three-digit numbers, one adds or subtracts hundreds and hundreds, tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose or decompose tens or hundreds.

    9 times out of 10 those strange homework sheets that pop up on the internet are for 7 year old’s and this Ill-defined and poorly written standard is the reason why.

    There is also this one from 4th grade…

    Find whole-number quotients and remainders with up to four-digit dividends and one-digit divisors, using strategies based on place value, the properties of operations, and/or the relationship between multiplication and division. Illustrate and explain the calculation by using equations, rectangular arrays, and/or area models.

    Grade 4 expectations in this domain are limited to whole numbers less than or equal to 1,000,000.

    Why on earth would anyone illustrate or explain 125,412 x 8 using rectangular arrays or area models? That would be insane!

    I could go on and on….. I really do have a list that is a mile long. I spent quite a while comparing the Common Core standards to the former Mass. standards and the difference is remarkable. We should have just used them as a diving board and adopted similar standards for our state. They are clear, concise, rigorous and developmentally appropriate. Everything CC is not!

    • Monica permalink

      Reminds me of the “Ultimate Final Exam”… ended complex expectations.

  8. Hannah permalink

    HUGE problem with it here in Caddo.

  9. As of March 2014, these districts had submitted resolutions for removal from CCSS and PARCC testing:

    Jefferson Davis
    St. Helena
    St. Martin
    St. Tammany

    • Add my Caddo Parish to that list!

      I am working on a massive opt-out from PARCC at my daughter’s school. I would love for John White to come visit then.

      Those against it in Caddo are also trying to talk to other school boards to get them to do resolutions as well. Ours was originally to get out of CC$$ and PARCC, but the board downgraded to just PARCC for some reason.

  10. Calcasieu—-I have a very solid understanding of Common Core and how it has crept into our educational system. It is an agenda based on lies and deceit! CCSS has gained a national spotlight and the body of people who oppose this “reform” initiative is growing stronger each day. Why in the world would anyone, school boards, businesses, politicians, want to promote an agenda that has garnered so much controversy and criticism? Common sense is screaming out right now and telling everyone to ditch this garbage! Common sense is pleading to not allow ” reforms” based on lies to educate our children! Common sense tells us all that we can do MUCH better than common core!

  11. BossierMomofTwo permalink

    I am against Common Core and PARCC testing. We will be opting out of testing. Not only was it implemented poorly, it isn’t even age appropriate and doesn’t include children with learning disabilities. I don’t like the idea of my children’s scores being available to a third party vendor, including social security numbers. Even if the information was given back, they’ve received it from Louisiana. Brilliant John White! Get us O-U-T! I hold you and the BESE Board accountable. No money is worth ANY child’s future. So all this money you and the others have received through your election campaigns to keep this agenda going should be condemned. BOSSIER, CADDO, and DESOTO want out.

  12. Mercedes, thanks again for your leadership. Your blog continues to invite a dialogue among education stakeholders relative to CCSS and PARCC. Some time ago, I stated my position on CCSS–long before the public became aware of what was happening within the education arena within our state. In October of 2013, I was responsible for adding CCSS to the BESE agenda. The meeting was described as a “marathon” meeting lasting 10 hours. However, the debate ended with a vote of 9-2 to maintain the CCSS. The next day at the formal meeting of BESE, the response was an “emergency policy” to allow parents the opportunity to review educational resources. If parents found any resources objectionable, they could inform the school system of their concerns and their children would be given another resource to use. As I stated in a letter to the editor, the response was ineffectual. For years, this practice was in place. As I have stated on many occasions, some district superintendents, in my opinion, fear sending out mixed messages to parents, educators, and students. They, including me, are charged with the implementation of CCSS. While I have made my concerns known in a published document, school systems are held accountable for student achievement. As I have pointed out, superintendents have a responsibility to their students to ensure that the CCSS are implemented with fidelity. This is the charge assigned to school systems by BESE. Many legislators have upheld this charge. (I realize some may challenge my comments. Some may say superintendents have a responsibility to speak up. I realize this is also true. However, we all know who is in possession of the data and the funding. It is unfortunate that we are in this situation.)

    I will repeat many of the standards are not developmentally appropriate. I have read the research that CCSS are not recommended and reasons why. Some will negate this research; however, where is the proof that CCSS are effective? Bill Gates is quoted as saying that it may take a decade before we know whether the standards are effective. Many respond they are supportive of rigorous standards. CCSS–rigorous through which measure???

    The biggest fear for most districts is the administration of PARCC in March. While districts have worked hard to prepare students for the test, no one has seen the test. Teachers do not know the “destination”; therefore, how can they reach it? Educators are ‘shooting at a moving target.” The “guidance” offered by the LDOE has arrived “too little–too late.” There have been continuous changes. I was told yesterday we can expect changes to the assessment guide next week. I continue to say we are building the “plane as we fly it.” If we continue with CCSS and PARCC, and this is the charge, it is evident that at least another year is needed before letter grades are administered. I will also add there has been some confusion regarding which test would be administered–whether the test would contain PARCC-like items, or actual PARCC items. (Remember the Hill et al case.) Things were up in the air until the judge ruled in favor of the aforementioned group. The case is now being appealed.

    I have concerns relating to PARCC assessments. Upon examining third grade sample items, I think some third graders will find the exam quite challenging due to time constraints. There are known instances where adults “freeze” up due to time constraints being imposed on them. ( I taught 3rd grade some years ago and was most impressed that my students could assemble sentences to form a single paragraph. ) I will further add that some items may require third graders to compare and contrast characters. Students will be required to write responses in two paragraphs (based on a review of practice tests.) To further complicate matters, there are grids where third graders will be required to darken the circles (ie .75) Students will darken a column containing the decimal; then move to the next column to darken the 7 among a string of numbers, and move to the next column to darken the 5. Students who are lacking in hand-eye coordination may find this challenging under time constraints. Some items may have multiple answers. Approximately 56% of the test measures students’ writing skills. I encourage some of you to go the LDOE website to the Accountability page and then click on the practice tests for the different grade levels.

    In closing, the debate far exceeds CCSS. There is an agenda to dismantle traditional public schools. Why would a state superintendent of education and BESE majority choose not to ask for a waiver of letter grades like some other states did? This is a rhetorical question. Create chaos and distractions! Parents will choose “opt out of testing” for their children. In Louisiana, there is no opting-out without consequences. If a student does not test, he or she will earn a zero; the school, and school district will earn zeroes for all students who opt out. Depending on the number of students who opt out, schools and school systems could be ripe for charter takeover. This is playing into the hands of the “reformers.” Now to answer your question, Mercedes. I will bring forth another resolution in February to ask the St. Martin Parish School Board to take another stand against CCSS and PARCC, specifically requesting a moratorium on the assignment of letter grades.
    I will also encourage your audience to remain strong, engaged, and be willing to stand up to “big money.” There is hope. Remember the time when the votes on BESE were 10 to 1. Shortly after the election and much prayer, Carolyn Hill “saw the light.” The votes on BESE soon became 9-2. Much later, with the resignation of Stephen Waguespak, Jane Smith was appointed, resulting in votes of 8-3. With the recent appointment of Mary Harris, replacing Walter Lee, the votes cast at BESE this week were 7-4. Lastly, let me remind all of you that I was against CCSS long before Governor Jindal “saw the light.” I believe in the power of prayer.

  13. Shelly Todd permalink

    Ascension Parish: I do NOT accept Common Core or the PARCC testing wholeheartedly!!!!! Several other parents do NOT also but because of circumstances in this parish we do not speak out against it because of fear. This has DESTROYED my child and not one person in this parish cares besides me!!!!!

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