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Legislators show they really wanted "dummy diploma"

After months of insisting otherwise, the cat finally is out of the bag, the elephant in the room has been recognized, the legislators have no clothes – whatever metaphor/cliché you choose, the fact is the real intent of state Rep. Jim Fannin and state Sen. Bob Kostelka was to create a “dummy diploma.”

This past year, these two lead authors of legislation that would create a new diploma track for Louisiana high school graduates – only three years after another career diploma had been put in place by the state – that significantly relaxed requirements for graduation kept insisting up and down that this was not an attempt to water down standards. Besieged by adverse publicity about low graduation rates in the state, they denied this was a move to change the rules to improve the statistics without maintaining quality.

But they finally admitted this was all gamesmanship when they opposed the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s desire to address the question of graduation requirements for the new diploma by moving to make its graduates pass the same exit exams. When a motion by allies of the legislators failed to stop moving with the item that would promulgate rules including requiring all students take the same exit exams, the legislators responded by asking for an attorney general’s opinion to try to negate the authority of BESE to require this.

It’s questionable whether this tactic will succeed. The new laws do not prohibit BESE from doing this, but neither does it state this is to be the regime and so the fact that the laws made an exception to the existing regime may indicate BESE does not have the authority. If the losing party to the opinion disagrees, the next step to resolution would be the judicial system.

However, unquestioned is the dumbing down agenda of Fannin and Kostelka is now laid bare for all to see. If they truly believed the changes provided as high a quality education as they said, there is no reason for them to argue that students pursuing the new diploma should take an easier set of exit exams. BESE’s majority was entirely correct in its decision to put children and the state’s economic development first instead of providing political cover for legislators who can’t stand the heat but refuse to leave the kitchen.

And if for some reason after all the legal wrangling this decision gets overturned, the other official who would bear some culpability for the resulting dumbing down of state education standards should make amends – Gov. Bobby Jindal. He signed this unnecessary legislation into law; let’s hope without agreeing with Fannin’s and Kostelka’s reasons and thereby willing to rectify a wrong by pushing to change the law if their view gets the benefit of the legal doubt.

1 comment:

ragin cajun said...

Governor Jindal promoted this watered-down diploma legislation. He deserves just as much criticism as Kostelka and Fannin.

Local school boards and many of the Governor's conservative supporters (or former supporters) spoke out against this legislation, yet he continued its promotion.

Moon Griffon has nicknamed Bob Kostelka the "waterboy", but you, Jeff, continue to carry water for the Jindal Administration, right or wrong.