As members of Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), we applaud the Louisiana legislators who are taking legal action against BESE for its improprieties in adopting Common Core education standards. Although we regret that legal action is necessary, the majority of BESE has shown an unwillingness to demand transparency and accountability from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and State Superintendent of Education John White, and we share the frustrations of the legislators who feel compelled to seek justice for Louisiana’s children.
The legislators note that BESE did not follow the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in adopting Common Core education standards. Specifically, BESE did not follow APA’s requirement that all rules adopted by BESE be publically advertised for 90 days prior to adoption. The purpose of this 90 day requirement is to promote transparency and good governance by allowing review and feedback from the public. It’s clear that BESE did not follow this requirement when it adopted the Common Core standards.
Sadly, this is not the only instance where BESE ignored APA requirements when adopting rules that impact our children. In 2012, as BESE members concerned about this practice of ignoring the APA, we made a motion requesting an Attorney General’s opinion on the legal ramifications of ignoring the APA requirements. The majority of BESE voted against seeking clarification on APA requirements from the Attorney General.
Furthermore, an ongoing audit of the LDOE’s contracts for education assessment services has documented serious defects in the procurement process used to award assessment testing contracts – totaling millions of taxpayer dollars – to out-of-state businesses. Although the audit process is still ongoing, the audit’s initial findings raise troubling questions about the fairness and transparency of the LDOE’s award of contracts to vendors providing Common Core testing services.
These questions must be answered by Superintendent John White, yet the majority of BESE seems determined to sue Governor Jindal for seeking answers to these questions rather than addressing them. Irrespective of the merits and weaknesses of the Common Core standards and PARCC, the public should have complete confidence in the LDOE and BESE’s ability to follow the law and operate transparently and fairly. Sadly, that is not the case, and legal action must be taken to ensure justice and fairness from those entrusted to educate our children.
Lottie P. Beebe, BESE District 3, Breaux Bridge
Carolyn Hill, BESE District 8, Baton Rouge
Jane Smith, BESE Member at Large, Bossier