Louisiana Governor Sues U.S. Over Common Core
(CN) - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal sued the U.S. Department of Education accusing it, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core academic standards.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Baton Rouge, Jindal says the department is trampling on the 10th Amendment and other federal laws by requiring states that want to compete for federal grants to embrace the national standards.
Jindal also accused the department and Secretary Duncan of forcing states to adopt the Common Core standards to win a waiver from some of the restrictive aspects of No Child Left Behind, the federal education law.
"Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away states rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything," Jindal said in a written statement shortly after filing the lawsuit.
"What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be 'voluntarily' used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize the curriculum," Jindal added.
"Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education has made changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act state test review and approval process that will coerce states to adopt the federal government's preferred tests or risk billions in federal funding, he said.
The Common Core is a set of standards in math and English language arts that students should possess at the end of each school year, from kindergarten through 12th grade.
While testing groups Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium are developing exam to assess this knowledge, the standards don't prescribe how those skills are taught, leaving those decisions in the hands of the states and school district. Nevertheless, as the mid-terms elections approach, it has become a popular target for conservative Republicans and tea party groups.
Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core, but has grown more critical of the standards at the same time that speculation grows he plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
Earlier this summer the New Orleans Times Picayune reported that Jindal tried unsuccessfully to block the adoption of the Common Core in Louisiana by executive order, but the effort died due to opposition by the state legislature, the state board of education and the state's superintendent of education.
Jindal even went so far as to try to such the Louisiana Board of Education over the standards. But that effort was also stymied when Judge Todd Hernandez, of the state's Nineteenth Judicial District Court, voided the governor's suspension of contracts for testing materials that adhere to the Common Core curriculum.
In his ruling, Hernandez said Jindal failed to produce any evidence to support his claims that Louisiana Education Superintendent John White and the state's board of Elementary and Secondary Education violated state contracting law.
"The loss of time is irreparable. With each passing day teachers and parents lose time preparing students for high stake testing, and there is a lot riding on the student's successful performance on these tests," the judge wrote.
Jindal Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin said the governor will appeal Hernandez's ruling.
"The judge took the arguments from Common Core proponents hook, line and sinker," Plotkin said in a statement. "The Superintendent and BESE President are creating hysteria about one test that is several months away."
In was the second loss Hernandez dealt Jindal in less that than a week. Only four days earlier the judge refused the governor's requested to throw out a lawsuit filed by a group of parents and teachers that accused him of illegally interfering with the implementation of Common Core.
The U.S. Department of Education did not comment directly Jindal's latest move.
"The most important thing is that children in Louisiana have gone back to school this year with high academic standards in place in their classroom to help prepare them to succeed in college, career and life," said Dorie Nolt, the department's spokeswoman.