Common Core debate overlaps party lines
BATON ROUGE- In his final legislative session as Governor, Bobby Jindal pushed his agenda and said eliminating common core is chief among the issues he wants lawmakers to tackle.
To loud applause, Jindal called on lawmakers to get rid of the education standards. "That's why I'm here to tell you... we have to get rid of Common Core," he said.
Eliminating the teaching method has been Jindal's battle cry for months now, something more than a few lawmakers chalk up to his presidential aspirations.
"I think he's just spinning his wheels," said Rep. Pat Smith, "like he's been spinning his wheels to run for president."
Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat, supports Common Core and is ready to duke it out in the legislative session to keep it intact.
"Yes it will be a fight, and I'm ready for it," she said.
However, the schism between a Democrat legislator and the Republican governor is not indicative of Common Core being a partisan issue. For example, the Democrat's gubernatorial candidate, Rep. John Bel Edwards lies solidly in the anti-Common Core camp and acknowledged that many other Democrats do as well.
"I don't thing that's going to be the position of the caucus one way or another," said Edwards, "we have individuals of the caucus who will be on both sides of that issue."
The lack of partisan solidarity is frustrating to Democrats like Smith. "Why these other individuals have a problem with it, I haven't the slightest idea why," said Smith.
On the other side of the aisle, prominent Republicans have come out in support of the standards. Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne is the only gubernatorial candidate supporting the issue, but he stands alone from the other two Republican candidates- U.S. Sen. David Vitter and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
Another prominent Republican in support of Common Core is State Sen. Conrad Appell, the chair of the Senate Education Committee. Appell's support for the standards is seen as essential for preventing anti-Common Core bills from becoming real threats to the program.
A number of strategies are expected to be employed to end Common Core during the current session. Some include defunding the program, while others seek to transfer authority from the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the group which controls the state's education standards, and give it to the legislature.