Minden Press-Herald

Tuesday
Sep 30th

Reynolds defends vote on Common Core house bill

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State Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, says he is receiving a lot of local flak over his vote on a now-defunct bill that should've addressed Common Core – but didn't.

"I was told that in some of the media, I got the blame for this anti-Common Core bill being defeated," Reynolds said, referring to House Bill 381, which was defeated by a 12-7 vote in the Education Committee. "I want people to understand exactly what the amendments did and exactly why I didn't vote for it."

Originally, Reynolds, a member of the Education Committee, said the impression was that HB 381 would do away with Common Core.

Rep Brett Geyman, R-Lake Charles, authored the original bill to create a commission to develop state standards for required subjects for public school students.

"This was the only bill our committee heard that day (Wednesday, April 2)," he said. "Geymann came into the meeting with a list of 14 amendments to go with it."

Reynolds said the committee looked over the amendments and went back to the original bill, which beginning with line 13, read "Until the implementation of the initial standards developed by the commission and approved by the legislature as provided in this Subsection, the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education shall implement the state standards (line 20) used immediately prior to the adoption of the Common Core State Standards by the (line 21) board."

"On page 5 of amendment number 14, lines 20 and 21 were taken out," Reynolds said. "That sentence and a half completely took out any elimination of Common Core at the present time. And it states in there that they shall continue with Common Core standards at the state and local levels until a time when this commission could come with an alternative."

The commission of 32 people would be formed to come up with more standards, Reynolds said, adding he suspects it would be uncommon for 32 persons on a panel to agree.

"To me, it was unconstitutional. It's an unelected board that would be cumbersome. I voted against it."

Reynolds said the list making up the board, according to the amendment would consist – in part – of representatives from the Louisiana Association of Educators, Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Associate Professional Educators of Louisiana, Louisiana School Board Association, Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, Louisiana Association of Principals, Louisiana Association of School Executives, two principals selected by the presiding officer of LAP, two teachers – one math and one English – selected by LAP, two parents and grandparents of students selected by Louisiana Parent Teacher Association and two deans of colleges.

"All these groups in one room every day that we have an Education Committee meeting," Reynolds said. "There is not a day that any of these people can get along, and the bill says that in order to bring the standards to the committee – doing away with BESE – this group would have to have a two-thirds vote to approve anything. This was a terrible bill."

The bill also had a section noting that $72,000 a year minimum would be required to pay the per diem for members of the commission.

"Contrary to what some people are saying, it was not an up or down vote on Common Core," Reynolds said. "I didn't go down there (Baton Rouge) to create more government. This would be a board that would accomplish nothing. And in the meantime, you've still got Common Core."

 

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