Common Core Testing Debate: Is There An End in Sight?

BATON ROUGE -- The latest in the battle over common core -- Governor Bobby Jindal And Superintendent John White sat down Thursday to discuss the issue over testing.

Both sides say they've agreed to disagree over common core, but the next problem now is who determines the questions for next year's test.

"We had a very good discussion. The governor is obviously very committed to the children of our state," said White in a phone conference with the media Thursday evening.

But White says right now, he's not hopeful a resolution will be found soon.

Jindal alleges the education department has repeatedly shied away from certain procurement laws on testing contracts.

"Procurement is not a suggestion, it's the law," said governor Jindal's Chief of Staff, Kyle Plotkin in a phone conference. "We are hopeful that he now will work the commissioner of administration and a procurement support team to start a process in doing an RFP in accordance with the law."

Jindal says the department did not follow state contracting law and needs to seek competitive bids for testing materials. Jindal suspended department's testing contracts to undermine their plans to purchase common core-related testing material. 

"Today's discussion was not about common core," said Plotkin. "We disagree with them, we agree to disagree with them on this, but the governor's been very clear that he wants the state to be out of common core."

White says his department followed proper procedure.

"The unfortunate thing is, the superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, and most importantly students, also find themselves caught in the middle of that debate," he said.

BESE's current proposal is to keep the leap test but mix it with common core questions -- Jindal's rejecting that.

"It seems to me sitting here, there's only one basic disagreement. And I fear that that issue is who has the ability to determine the questions on the test? My dept and I feel ourselves caught between two different governmental entities over this disagreement."

White says either way, there will be a test next year, but for now, what's next?

"The next step would be for the superintendent of education to start working with the division of administration and inner-agency team to start a process to do an RFP that's in accordance with the law," said Plotkin.

BESE voted earlier this month to hire outside counsel, preparing for a potential lawsuit against the governor. 

White says he thinks this situation highlights their need for legal clarity, the governor's office says they're happy to go to court if that's what it takes.

"If I were to say anything to teachers, I write them on a regular basis, I would say, the standards are the standards, stick with what you're doing," White said.

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