- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The St. Tammany Parish educator leading a legislatively-mandated review of the state’s education standards wouldn’t say Tuesday whether she supports the Common Core standards Louisiana currently uses.

Regina Sanford, an assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the St. Tammany Parish school system, was selected by the state education board to chair the 26-member review committee that starts work Wednesday.

In a call to preview the committee meeting, Sanford refused to comment on how well she thinks Common Core is - or isn’t - working in the public school classrooms in her school district.

“I don’t believe that any standards are perfect and we need to value what our educators and our teachers, as well as our parents, are telling us,” she said. “My opinion is of no value one way or the other.”

The Common Core standards are benchmarks of what students should learn at each grade level in English and math. They’ve been adopted by more than 40 states as a way to better prepare students for college and careers. Opponents say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education.

Louisiana’s lawmakers required the standards review because Common Core has become controversial among some parents and teachers. Debate over Common Core is so divisive that even the makeup of the standards review committee and its three subcommittees was a point of contention when the plans were being developed.

Whatever her personal opinions, Sanford pledged that the review will be an open, transparent process seeking to devise the best education standards for Louisiana’s students.

“I’m starting from a very unbiased, honest review,” she said. “I feel that it’s very important that I approach this with an open mind.”

The review committee contains teachers, other educators, school administrators, higher education officials and parents.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, had planned a standards review process, but state lawmakers placed it into statute as part of a deal brokered earlier this year to end legislative disputes over Common Core.

Whether the review will jettison Common Core or only make modest adjustments remains unclear. The panel could suggest any number of changes, additions or deletions to the standards.

Sanford said the review committee will submit its recommendations to BESE in February after public hearings are held around the state. The education board will decide which recommendations to adopt, and those proposals will go to the House and Senate education committees and the governor for review.

The legislative committees and the governor will have the ability to reject the standards in an up-or-down vote, not a line-item veto of individual standards. If the revised standards are rejected, Common Core stays in place.

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