The Jindal administration, in response to a statement by the Louisiana Department of Education has announced today in a hastily-called press conference that it would be "temporarily suspending" a Common Core-related contract.
This coming on the day that Jindal announced he was removing Louisiana from Common Core and PARCC, followed by a press statement by the Louisiana Department of Education which was somewhat defiant in tone and substance.
Also, the Louisiana Teachers' Union has just entered the Common Core, PARCC political powederkeg fray with the following statement:
Here is the audio of most of Nichols telephone press conference. (Bayoubuzz received an announcement shortly before the press conference and could only record after it had already started)
Here is the press release following the telephone conference:
DOA Temporarily Suspends Approval Of DOE Contract
BATON ROUGE - Today, Commissioner Kristy Nichols announced that the Office of Contractual Review (OCR) ordered a temporary suspension of approval of the contracts between Data Recognition Corporation and the Department of Education, pending further review by OCR. OCR previously reviewed the contracts, which are related to consulting support services for the Department of Education in implementation of state educational assessments. Upon close review of these contracts and amendments to the contracts, it was necessary for OCR to temporarily suspend approval for further review of the scope of the services to be provided and the purchase of goods or supplies associated with the consulting services.
The letter below has been sent to the Department of Education notifying it of the withdrawal of approval of the contracts. OCR will now conduct a thorough review. If the Department disputes OCR’s findings, it may seek a final determination from the Commissioner.
Commissioner Kristy Nichols said, "The Department of Education has suggested it has unlimited authority to use a state contract, paid for by taxpayers, for a purpose for which it was not intended. Under Louisiana law, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a contract for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement. For these reasons, we have issued a stay of the services under the contract until the Office of Contractual Review has had an opportunity to review it and obtain more information about how the Department is exercising its authority under the contracts.”
The following letter was sent to Superintendent John White, Department of Education
Dear Superintendent White:
Re: CFMS No. 603573 & CFMS No. 704708
The Office of Contractual Review previously reviewed certain consulting contracts between the Louisiana Department of Education and Data Recognition Corporation regarding consulting support services being provided to the Department related to implementation of State educational assessment programs. Upon close review of these contracts and amendments, I am hereby retracting approval of the contracts temporarily, pending further review of the scope of the services to be provided under the contracts and the intended purchase of goods or supplies associated with the consulting services. Louisiana R.S. 39:1498, regarding approval of contracts, requires that a contracting agency specify the purpose, duration, specific goals and objectives, measures of performance, and a plan for monitoring the services to be provided under the contract. I have reason to believe that some of the required certifications and supporting documentation may be insufficient. In addition to the review of these two contracts, I will also be reviewing any other similar consulting contracts with the Department to ensure compliance with Louisiana laws and regulations.
Please be advised that withdrawal of approval of these contracts immediately suspends the authorization for payment pursuant to those contracts. I will be contacting you to obtain additional information and will advise you as soon as my review is complete. In the event you dispute any determination made by this Office, you may seek a final determination from the Commissioner of Administration regarding this matter in accordance with Louisiana R.S. 39:1501.
Very truly yours,
Pamela Bartfay Rice, Esq.
Office of Contractual Review
LFT responds to Gov. Jindal’s PARCC announcement
(Baton Rouge – June 18, 2014) Sticking to a vow he’s made for weeks. Gov. Bobby Jindal today announced that he has signed an executive order withdrawing Louisiana from the test consortium associated with Common Core State Standards. The governor said that his action also removes Louisiana from participation in the Common Core standards.
Superintendent of Education John White and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer immediately responded with a press release saying that they intend to remain in Common Core and to implement PARCC tests as planned.
The showdown between Jindal on one side and White and Roemer on the other could lead to a dramatic political confrontation, according to Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan.
“There is no doubt that Common Core and PARCC are toxic because of the political controversy surrounding them,” Monaghan said. “We know that our questions about the Common Core standards, PARCC tests and their implementation were never satisfactorily answered. The governor did what he has been promising to do for weeks. That is the political reality of the situation.
“Meanwhile,” Monaghan said, “teachers and children want to know what the future holds.”
The governor’s order prohibits BESE from spending money on PARCC tests. He said the state’s school board needs to develop new state standards and to take competitive bids for tests that measure those standards.
Louisiana’s participation in Common Core dates back to 2010, Monaghan said, when BESE signed onto the standards as part of an application to receive federal Race to the Top funds. Although the state did was not approved for the funds, the state began to implement Common Core. BESE chose the PARCC test as the instrument to measure student achievement under the standards.
Controversy followed almost immediately. For various reasons, parents, teacher organizations and school systems all questioned the implementation of the standards as well as the origins of the standards themselves.
Problems with the rollout of the standards and test led to a two-year suspension of high-stakes consequences for students, but PARCC testing is scheduled to begin next year for third through eighth grade students.
The LFT has consistently maintained support for high standards, but questioned the implementation of the program in Louisiana. At last November’s LFT convention, delegates adopted a resolution dealing with several aspects of Common Core State Standards and testing. The resolution asked for legislation that would:
- Adopt a three-year hold-harmless transitional period for the implementation of Common Core (On June 10, 2014, the Gates Foundation called for a two year moratorium on linking new tests to high stakes decisions).
- Guarantee appropriate curriculum framework for the implementation of Common Core and its tests.
- Repeal the letter grading system of schools prior to establishing consequences of Common Core implementation.
- Ensure the provision of appropriate technology to administer PARCC, or to provide for alternate means of assessment.
None of the elements of the LFT resolution were adopted by the Legislature.
Today’s announcement by the governor, and the response from BESE, pose big questions for teachers, parents and students in the months ahead. Whatever the eventual outcome, Monaghan said, there must be a sense of clarity in order for public education to function.
“What do teachers want?” Monaghan asked “Clear educational standards, an instrument that accurately and fairly measures student progress, and the resources necessary to meet those goals. Those are the tools that teachers need to do the job they are prepared to do. We hope that teachers and developmental experts will be consulted as new instruments are created under the governor’s orders.”