The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education released a statement after Governor Bobby Jindal issued his executive orders saying that he lacked the authority for this action:
BATON ROUGE, La. – The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Department of Education today reaffirmed that the state will implement the Common Core State Standards, as well as grade 3-8 test forms and questions developed by states within the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) for the 2014-2015 school year. The Department will deliver and score the grade 3-8 tests using the state’s currently active contract for grade 3-8 testing, awarded through the state procurement process.
In 2010, after a public review process, BESE adopted the Common Core State Standards as minimum expectations for reading, writing, and mathematics. The Governor, the BESE President, and the State Superintendent then signed a commitment to developing test forms and questions that would allow the state’s performance to be measured in comparison with other states. Nearly 45,000 Louisiana students tried out the resulting PARCC forms and questions in March and April of 2014.
The plan to continue implementation fulfills BESE’s legal role and obligations. Under the Louisiana State Constitution, BESE “shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction and shall have budgetary responsibility for all funds appropriated or allocated by the state for those schools, all as provided by law.”
State law requires that “[t]he state Department of Education shall, with the approval of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, as part of the Louisiana Competency-Based Education Program, develop and establish statewide content standards for required subjects to be taught in the public elementary and secondary schools of this state.”
Regarding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and the PARCC tests, state law mandates that “[b]eginning with the 2014-2015 school year, standards-based assessments shall be based on nationally recognized content standards.” State law also mandates that “[t]he rigor of each standard-based test, at a minimum, shall be comparable to national achievement tests” and “student achievement standards shall be set with reference to test scores of the same grade levels nationally.” The plan reaffirmed by BESE and the Department today meets with these legal requirements.
“For years, the law has required that BESE measure literacy and math achievement,” said BESE President Chas Roemer. “Four years ago, our board committed to measuring learning in comparison with states across the country, and two years ago the Legislature put this plan into the law. BESE is continuing to implement that law.”
“State and federal law have long required that Louisiana measure literacy and math performance through standards and annual tests,” said State Superintendent John White. “By using test forms and questions that make results comparable among states, we are following the Legislature’s mandate that we not only measure but also compete.”
It seems like they’re setting up a constitutional crisis here.
Here is what the Louisiana Constitution says about the office of Governor in Article IV, Section 5 (A):
The governor shall be the chief executive officer of the state. He shall faithfully support the constitution and laws of the state and of the United States and shall see that the laws are faithfully executed.
Article VIII, Section 3(A) describes the duties of the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education:
The State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is created as a body corporate. It shall supervise and control the public elementary and secondary schools and special schools under its jurisdiction and shall have budgetary responsibility for all funds appropriated or allocated by the state for those schools, all as provided by law. The board shall have other powers, duties, and responsibilities as provided by this constitution or by law, but shall have no control over the business affairs of a city, parish, or other local public school board or the selection or removal of its officers and employees; however, the board shall have the power to supervise, manage, and operate or provide for the supervision, management, and operation of a public elementary or secondary school which has been determined to be failing, including the power to receive, control, and expend state funds appropriated and allocated pursuant to Section 13(B) of this Article, any local contribution required by Section 13 of this Article, and any other local revenue available to a school board with responsibility for a school determined to be failing in amounts that are calculated based on the number of students in attendance in such a school, all in the manner provided by and in accordance with law.
Ok, look I’m not going to claim to be a Louisiana Constitutional scholar here, but who is the chief executive? He is the one charged with making sure that the state law is faithfully executed. He has charged the board to write new standards, and he is making provisions for a new assessment. PARCC and the Common Core are not codified in state law. It seems to me that the Governor has the purview to direct the Board as to how that law is executed. I don’t know of any other state where the State Board of Education trumps the Governor of the State.