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Quick Take: Why Are We Still Talking About Common Core? St. Tammany Board Members Make Pointless Political Statement

Apparently some folks haven’t gotten the memo, so let me reiterate something: The war over Common Core in Louisiana is over.

Yep, kaput. Done. Finito. The ship has sailed. The curtain has fallen.

Louisiana’s citizens have spoken through their elected representatives in the legislature, who have rejected every single bill – and there have been dozens – filed to get rid of the standards. They have also spoken through the ballot box – just a few short weeks ago, in fact – when they returned a pro-reform majority [the districts shown in blue in the map below] to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).

However, those points seem lost on the members of the St. Tammany Parish School Board, who unanimously approved a proposal from board member Neal Hennegan to sever the district’s relationship with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana last week. Why? Because in addition to the dozens of charitable initiatives the organization supports across the Greater New Orleans region, the United Way just so happens to support Common Core.

“They’ve taken up Common Core as one of their initiatives they’re endorsing,” Hennegan told the Times-Picayune. “This is a political issue. Why would they support it?”

St. Tammany board member Neal Hennegan axed the United Way.
St. Tammany board member Neal Hennegan axed the United Way.

Hennegan is only half right. Common Core should be a non-issue that has instead been turned into a political issue by groups like the Tea Party and the teachers unions. He also ignores the fact that the voters of BESE District 1, which includes all of St. Tammany Parish, just reelected Common Core supporter Jim Garvey to the state board. Garvey easily defeated Lee Barrios, who opposes the standards, with 71% of the vote.

In short, the members of the St. Tammany School Board just punished the United Way over an issue that their constituents, it turns out, don’t really care that much about.

Make sense? No, but that’s Louisiana politics for you.

Written by Peter Cook

Pete became involved in education reform as a 2002 Teach For America corps member in New Orleans Public Schools and has worked in various capacities at Teach For America, KIPP, TNTP, and the Recovery School District. As a consultant, he developed teacher evaluation systems and served as a strategic advisor to school district leaders in Cleveland, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. He now writes about education policy and politics and lives in New Orleans.


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  1. Enjoyed reading your perspectives in the commentary. One item: your map showing the newly elected or re-elected BESE members who support the education reform policies and higher standards of several years (as shown in “blue”), should also show the NWLA (4th District) in “blue” as well. That district was won by pro-reform candidate Tony Davis from Natchitoches, who is President of the local Chamber of Commerce. He defeated Mary Harris, who was a short-term Jindal appointee and opposed to Common Core State Standards.

  2. You all are complete idiots congratulating yourselves in your corrupt echo chamber. All your pet legislators and BESE candidates ran against Common Core, even Boffy who works for the organization that owns the copyright. You better hope Vitter wins. I hear he likes prostitutes so you all should get along fine.

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