Editor: Vitter’s Common Core flip-flop exemplifies the politics of extremism

    When Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel began her reporting career in the late 1980s, she says, “there still existed a shred of rationality in political debate and even occasional moments of intellectual honesty.” In her latest column, Riegel says there was also a spirit of bipartisanship that enabled members of this state’s congressional delegation to broker compromises and get things done.

    “By today’s standards they were political moderates, whatever their party affiliation on paper, who could cross the aisle to work with the other side,” Riegel writes. “Today they are but a distant memory. Elected officials routinely waffle and pander to the extremist factions of their respective parties in a way that would have been shameful just a couple of decades ago. Partisan national media outlets perpetuate the charade, and the anonymity of the web gives online bloggers a forum to fan the flames of ignorance and hatred.”

    Riegel says the latest example of this kind of political pandering came last week, when U.S. Sen. David Vitter flip-flopped on Common Core and announced he is now against the controversial education standards. Riegel says the about-face “exemplified just how far we have strayed from any semblance of reasoned discourse,” noting the move has angered many Baton Rouge area business and industry leaders.

    After all, it was only four months ago when Gov. Bobby Jindal was trying to block Common Core implementation that Vitter voiced his support for Common Core.

    “Common Core is not a perfect solution but it’s one of the best options on the table. Yes, it could benefit from tweaking. There are sections of curricula that could be revised and requirements that could be added or dropped. Individual states have latitude to make some of these changes,” Riegel writes. “But to advocate abolishing the standards altogether in order to appease an unreasonable political faction that is basing its opposition on fallacious reasoning is more than a disappointment. It’s an outrage.”

    Though the governor’s race is still nearly a year away, Riegel says Vitter’s latest moves “suggests it is going to be 11 long months of empty rhetoric rooted in the politics of extremism,” adding: “It’s enough to make one nostalgic for the 1980s.” Read the full column. Send your comments to editors@businessreport.com.

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