BATON ROUGE, La. -- After a key meeting Thursday at the governor's mansion, the governor and State Department of Education are no closer to a compromise on common core.
The two sides continue to clash over who gets to decide which questions are on the state's standardized tests, said state education superintendent John White.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, has a legal obligation to set state testing standards, said White.
But Governor Bobby Jindal believes the procurement team appointed by his administration should also have a say, and that the process should be opened up to include the Attorney General’s office and the state’s fiscal office, among others.
“At this moment I am not hopeful that ther is a way of sitting down between bese and the admin and working out just on the basis of a conversation, the difference over a simple but important question, who gets to determine what's on the test,” said White.
“John and I, we have a fundamental disagreement about common core. I don't think we should be using that in our state but this discussion is about making sure the department follows the law,” said Jindal, in an interview before the meeting.
Jindal has said the initial testing contract is illegal because it wasn't part of a competitive bid process.
“I made it clear to Superintendent White that it is important for the Louisiana Department of Education to follow the law. Procurement law is designed to protect taxpayers and it must be followed,” said Jindal in a statement issued after the meeting.
“Every contract the department currently has, every amendment in those contracts was signed off on by the administration,” said White.
BESE agreed to rebid the contract in a compromise proposal Wednesday.
Jindal has said the proposal is a good step but doesn’t go far enough to include other agencies.
“It is a good sign they’ve made progress, but they need to stop delaying,” said Jindal.
The contract can’t be put out for a Request for Proposals, or RFP, until there is an agreement over who sets the standards for the contract. Once an RFP is issued, a decision on a new testing contractor should be made within 90 days.
With just weeks to go before the school year begins, teachers and students remain in the dark about what standardized test they should expect.
White plans to make a report to the board Friday so it's members can decide how to move forward.
“I’m humbled by the challenge of resolving this conflict,” said White. "I'm going to be recommending they do whatever they can to get a test into the hands of those teachers as soon as possible."
White said legal action is an option, but he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
He added that the school system gets millions of federal dollars every year as long as it has a testing contract in place.