Supt. John White

Why do Louisiana’s student counts keep coming up so woefully short, requiring the state to come up with more money for K-12 education each spring?

House Appropriations chairman Jim Fannin led the effort to find out why Louisiana’s mid-year MFP shortfall had grown from $18-million in 2008 to $56-million in 2014.

“When you have an increase in need in the MFP and you have a decrease in your revenue, it creates a train wreck,” Fannin told the Legislative Audit Advisory Council Thursday, as they received a report on a legislatively requested audit of the student count problem.

“My child is crying and beating his head on the table at night, when we address homework,” Desoto Parish parent Karen Jenkins told the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Thursday.

“My grandchildren started vomitin’ at school,” Caddo Parish grandmother Pat Dyson said.

Both were trying to persuade BESE to make allowances for opting out of the upcoming PARCC testing, because they believe Common Core is doing more harm than good.


 

The Senate Education Committee took testimony on the MFP Thursday, and ended up rejecting the formula for funding public schools.

The formula included $150-million in new spending: for a growing number of students, for career education and for kids with special needs. On a conference call following the committee meeting, state Superintendent John White said he’s not worried about students losing out, despite the formula being turned away. That’s because House Appropriations already added the extra money to HB 1, the next state budget.

  A bill that would take students attending “C” rated public schools out of eligibility for the voucher program failed to get out of the House Education Committee Wednesday.

“Either ‘C’ schools are failing schools, or they’re not,” stated Amite Representative John Bel Edwards, explaining the proposed program change as simple logic. “This program was premised upon giving choices to parents whose kids were trapped in failing schools. A ‘C’ school is not a failing school. It’s just that simple.”

  State Representative Joe Harrison of Houma wants the people to decide whether to elect the next state superintendent of education, or let the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education keep making that appointment. Harrison is the author of that constitutional amendment, now headed to the House floor.

House Education Committee members worked into the night Wednesday, taking testimony on bills that would halt or slow implementation of Common Core state standards and the accompanying standardized tests.

Louisiana is one of 45 states, plus the District of Columbia, that signed onto Common Core. The state is also one of 17 in a consortium using the PARCC tests to evaluate student progress on the new standards.

Louisiana parents gave the House and Senate education committees an earful last week.

“There seems to be no effective safeguard in law to protect our children’s information from the whim and will of BESE and LDE,” said Sara Wood of Mandeville.

She was talking about data privacy. Seven bills have been filed this session, each trying to prohibit how much individual information about Louisiana students is shared—and with whom.

Bill Feig / The Advocate

Whether you love it--like Vera Collins of Jefferson Parish, who says, “Louisiana’s Common Core State Standards is vital to making the dream a reality”—or hate it, like Ralph Roshto of Lacombe, who says, “Supporting Common Core is like a chicken supporting Colonel Sanders,”—Common Core is driving parents to the state capitol in droves.

But just what is this education issue that’s polarizing Louisiana moms and dads?