BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's adoption of uniform national standards for public school testing, called the Common Core, received the backing of the state education board with little more than a blip of attention three years ago.
Now, the standards are causing fear and anxiety among tea party supporters and conservative groups. Parents are shouting opposition in school board meetings and filling up social media sites with objections. Some lawmakers want to revisit the state's decision.
The dispute puts Gov. Bobby Jindal, who supported the Common Core standards, in a tough spot, one that the Republican governor would clearly rather avoid because of the political pitfalls involved.
Forty-five states have adopted the national standards, which define what students need to learn in reading, writing and math in each grade and allow states to compare the testing results against each other.
The standards were developed in a joint process among states seeking to have a set of uninform, grade-by-grade benchmarks for what students should learn in English and math.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed in 2010 to phase in Louisiana's use of the Common Core standards, with plans to have them fully in place by the 2014-15 school year. They are being incorporated into standardized tests given each spring to Louisiana's public school students.
But a tea party-led movement is seeking to derail those plans.
Critics of Common Core say that by using the national standards, Louisiana is abdicating local control of its curriculum to the federal government, calling it a "nationalization of education." They've also raised concerns about privacy issues in sharing student data and the costs of the technology upgrades involved in the testing.
"What began as a plan to develop standards that states could adopt voluntarily has now become a tool of federal coercion," state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, said in a letter to Jindal urging the governor to stop state use of the Common Core.
Supporters of the standards, including Superintendent of Education John White, say the uniform benchmarks will better prepare students for college and careers with more rigorous teaching and testing. They say that Common Core is not a curriculum and that teachers and school leaders decide how and what to teach.
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