BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A coalition of Louisiana business and civic groups Friday called on Gov. Bobby Jindal to keep the Common Core education standards in Louisiana public schools, saying any attempt to unilaterally scrap them would violate "the spirit of the democratic process."
State lawmakers in the recently ended legislative session and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have voted to maintain the benchmarks adopted by most states for English, reading and math.
Common Core opponents want Jindal to take executive action to remove Louisiana from the standards and its associated PARCC testing. The Republican governor has said he's committed to getting Louisiana out of Common Core.
Whether he has any authority to take such an action remains unclear.
More than 40 groups — which include many of the state's chambers of commerce and top business leaders — issued a letter urging Jindal to stay the course on Common Core.
They said they are shocked Jindal is suggesting he'll pursue executive action despite the "very strong affirmation of Common Core" by the Legislature and BESE. The letter says executive orders shouldn't be used to "make end runs" around other elected officials.
"We believe this action would constitute executive overreach that violates every aspect of the spirit of the democratic process. It would suggest that the state should be governed not by the bodies that constitutionally enact education laws and policies, but by the unilateral use of the executive pen," they wrote.
Jindal once supported the education standards, but he has become an ever-more vocal critic in recent months, saying he wants Louisiana to develop state-specific standards. He has said the Common Core is a "one-size-fits-all federal approach," that has been rushed into classrooms too quickly without enough thought for the concerns of parents.
"We appreciate the letter, but I'm committed to getting out of PARCC and Common Core. It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a plan B. I have real concerns about the federal government taking over our education standards," Jindal said in a statement Friday.
He added: "We are looking at several options to get out of PARCC and Common Core, and we are working through those now."
But the governor's office has refused to say what legal options Jindal believes he could use to try to jettison the standards from classrooms.
Superintendent of Education John White, a Common Core supporter, said the governor doesn't have the legal authority to stop Louisiana from using the benchmarks. He says BESE sets the standards under law.
Supporters of Common Core say the standards promote critical thinking and raise expectations for students. Critics say they would nationalize education, removing authority over content and curriculum from local control and jeopardizing student privacy.
The letter urging Jindal to keep Common Core was signed by more than 40 organizations, including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, the Chamber Southwest Louisiana, the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Greater New Orleans Inc., the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce and the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.