Governor Jindal is determined to pull Louisiana out of the Common Core. He wants “Louisiana standards and a Louisiana test” for Louisiana kids. But here’s the rub: Louisiana’s top education officials aren’t having it. According to the Times-Picayune,
Education Superintendent White and board President Chas Roemer dismissed Jindal’s rejection of Common Core as a dramatic but meaningless gesture. They said the state’s 714,000 students will continue lessons aligned with the national academic standards and its associated tests.
So, in the name of local control, Jindal wants out, but local officials are pushing back. This brings up the question: what is local control?
I find much of the Core implementation dismal (and consider the standards themselves partly to blame)–but question the claim that the main problem is federal overreach. Those making this claim cite a long tradition of “local control,” which, in their view, should remain. What do they mean by that?
If “local control” is state control, well, I’d be happy with local control in Massachusetts but somewhat worried in Kentucky, say.
If “local control” is district control, great–if I live in a district with a liberal curricular tradition (“liberal” in the sense of “liberal education,” not necessarily liberal politics). In a weak district, or a district with strong religious or ideological biases, there’s a much greater chance of fads, poor curriculum, upheavals, and so on, in which case a counterbalance of power could potentially do good.
If “local control” is control at the school level, good for you, if your school has a strong staff, a good curriculum, adequate resources, and wise leadership, or at least some of these. If not, you’re out of luck. School-level control may be liberating in some cases and confining in others.
Beyond that, within any of these definitions of “local control,” a hierarchy exists. The person in charge (for instance, Jindal) might see things one way, and those directly below him might disagree. Who, then, controls the local control? “Democratic process,” some may say–but democratic process doesn’t always uphold local control.
My point is not to bash local control. In many ways I support it. I am just observing its conceptual fuzziness and practical contradictions.