BATON ROUGE — If Common Core opponents want to get the education standards stripped from Louisiana’s public schools, it looks as if they have more work to do to get lawmakers on their side.
Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, failed in a procedural maneuver Monday to get his bill — which would change the method for adopting education standards — moved to the full House without a committee hearing.
Geymann, a leader of the anti-Common Core movement in the Legislature, was trying to bypass the House Education Committee. That committee refused to scrap the multistate standards last year and is expected to make a similar decision this year.
But lawmakers voted 61-37 against the bypass maneuver.
That was seen as a test vote and considered a sign that Common Core opponents don’t have support from a majority, or 53 members, of the House.
“It certainly is a benchmark on where we are. Whether we can get to a majority or not is a challenge,” Geymann said after the vote.
Whether Louisiana’s public schools should continue using the multistate standards in English and math is a contentious issue in the legislative session. Gov. Bobby Jindal has made shelving Common Core one of his priorities.
Supporters say Common Core better prepares students for college and the workforce, but opponents call the standards an effort by the Obama administration to nationalize education.
Geymann said parents who oppose Common Core don’t feel they can get a fair hearing in the education committee after its chairman, Rep. Steve Carter, was listed supporting an organization that Geymann said “mocked and ridiculed” opponents of the standards.
“The parents believe that the process has been poisoned,” he said.
The organization, Alliance for Better Classrooms, distributed stuffed animal unicorns to lawmakers last week that suggested many of the criticisms lawmakers have heard about Common Core are as mythical as unicorns.
Carter, R-Baton Rouge, said he was committed to a fair hearing on the Common Core legislation and said he wasn’t behind the unicorns. Several committee members bristled at suggestions they wouldn’t do an adequate job with the bill review.
“You will get a fair hearing. We may not agree, but we will treat you with respect,” said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond.
Rep. Rob Shadoin, an education committee member, voted with Geymann on an anti-Common Core bill last year. But he voted against Geymann on Monday, saying he didn’t think it was proper to sidestep the existing process for vetting bills.
“This little pink and white unicorn has not swayed me one way or the other,” he said, holding the stuffed animal.
Lawmakers who sided with Geymann said the standards debate was so important that all members of the House should have to consider the matter, rather than just a committee.
“I want the opportunity to debate this bill in front of everyone,” said Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington.