In a continued push to overturn the implementation of Common Core standards and testing in schools, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal joined forces with lawmakers in a lawsuit against Louisiana state education officials. This most recent move is the third lawsuit Jindal has been involved with in a period of several months.
Jindal filed the paperwork required in order to join 17 state legislators in a lawsuit they filed on July 21. The suit claims the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did not properly follow the law when it failed to provide sufficient public notice of the state’s intention to adopt Common Core standards. The plaintiffs argue this action prevented the public from viewing the documents and voicing potential concerns.
Change of Heart
Jindal opposes the adoption of Common Core standards and of tests developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a federally funded, multistate group responsible for creating tests to assess Common Core standards.
His opposition has caused many to criticize his intentions, because he initially supported adoption of the standards by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in July 2010. Many see his change of position as an attempt to woo voters in a potential bid for the presidency in 2016. A Whiteboard Advisors survey of “education insiders” conducted in July and August found 74 percent feel believe Jindal’s reversal is politically driven.
After his initial support, in March 2014, Jindal began to toughen his stance against Common Core and PARCC. He began focusing arguments on “one-size-fits-all” testing developed by PARCC, arguing it’s not the appropriate way to measure success. He urged lawmakers and the state board of education to address his concerns.
“Louisiana is a national leader in school choice,” said Brittany Corona, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation. “With the state’s course choice program, students are able to craft an education catalogue tailored to their learning needs by allowing them to take a combination of individual courses from colleges, public high schools, virtual schools, and private online providers. This customized education is threatened by one-size-fits-all approaches such as Common Core.”
By late April, Jindal’s opposition was heating up. He wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today in which he explained how his initial support of Common Core grew into opposition. “It is true, the Common Core standards did originally grow from states wanting to increase standards so our students can better compete with the rest of the world,” Jindal wrote. “Great idea. And Louisiana was in that group.” He then noted the increasing involvement of the federal government concerned him. “I’m from the school that believes education is a matter best left for local control,” he wrote. “The notion of Washington determining curricula is something most states are simply not interested in. It’s a non-starter.”
When the Louisiana Legislature adjourned in June 2014 without reaching a decision on legislation drafted to stop PARCC and Common Core, activists pushed Jindal to continue the fight. The governor subsequently vetoed House Bill 953, which was drafted as a way to soften the impact of Common Core.
“Gov. Bobby Jindal is involved in lawsuits against the state and federal Departments of Education in an effort to fight this federal coercion of our education system and protect a student’s ability to receive an education that matches their unique learning needs,” said Corona. “Currently 19 states have pushed back against the national standards by withdrawing or downgrading their involvement in the national tests and/or pausing the implementation of the standards. Four states, including Louisiana, have issued orders to exit Common Core completely.”
In a Nov. 6 press release, Jindal said, “There is growing dissatisfaction with Common Core and we will continue to support every effort to halt the federalization of curriculum in Louisiana schools. Education is best left to local control—which is why we will continue fighting to get Common Core out of Louisiana.”
The legislators allege that Louisiana’s Department of Education and Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did not properly advertise the new standards before implementing Common Core. They lost the initial legal battle using the same argument in August when a Baton Rouge judge denied the request for a temporary injunction that would have stopped the use of Common Core standards. State Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, who leads the group of lawmakers continuing the suit, said he is happy to have Jindal joins forces with them.
“We are very encouraged by the governor joining our lawsuit with 17 legislators and over 200 parents,” Geymann told School Reform News. “The people were denied the democratic process in the adoption of Common Core, and we believe the Department of Education clearly violated the law by not allowing for public comment and legislative oversight under the Administrative Procedures Act. We absolutely cannot allow a government agency to make such a radical change in the education of our children without allowing for the public to be engaged in the process. With the addition of the governor to our court challenge, we are very confident the people will win and have a stake in such an important decision regarding their children.”
Sherri Kuhn ([email protected]) writes from Livermore, California.
Image by Brian Turner.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, August 2014: http://heartland.org/policy-documents/us-district-court-lawsuit-bobby-jindal-vs-us-dept-education-0