Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has continued his legal battle against Common Core standards, despite the fact that he enthusiastically supported the standards in 2012. Jindal pushed for the implementation of standards, even as the state’s education department officials were concerned that a bill easing implementation of the standards wasn’t worth the political dust-up.
Three years has made a quite a difference in Jindal’s outlook on the issue. Jindal, who is expected to announce he is running for president, is suing the Obama administration in federal court.
The lawsuit, which first began in August of last year, claims that the administration is directly implementing national education reform “far beyond the intentions of Congress” and is responsible for “federal direction or control of curriculum” and that the Obama administration’s actions violate the 10th amendment.
The latest development in this legal saga occurred in Baton Rouge Thursday where a federal district court heard the case. The U.S. Department of Education filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but Shelly Dick, U.S. District Court Judge for the Middle District of Louisiana ruled the case would be heard in February.
However, the decision not to dismiss was not made on the merits of the case and the judge made sure to note Jindal’s previous support of Common Core, including the Jindal administration’s application for waivers of certain conditions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a federal law, to make Common Core standards implementation less burdensome. One example is the request that Louisiana could develop “new ambitious but achievable” annual measurable objectives for adequate yearly progress.
Jindal’s lawsuit makes the case that the Race to the Top program, which was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, coerced states into adopting Common Core standards, even though participation in grant programs is completely optional and Jindal supported implementation of standards in his own state.
During the daylong hearing on Thursday, Ann Whalen, a former Department of Education official, testified to clarify the Race to the Top program’s influence on states’ adoption of Common Core standards. She noted that Florida, Georgia and Kentucky dropped Common Core standards but did not lose their Race to the Top grants. The hearing will continue today.
When it comes to the governor’s state politics, however, Jindal has been amenable to finding common ground with legislators who have a more nuanced view of the issue.
Fierce opponents of the standards put together a plan to get rid of the standards but legislators worked on a compromise that would allow the state to review and possibly adopt new standards. This bill, although it allows the state to scrap the standards completely, would leave room for a decision to keep the benchmarks. The standards would still be in place while the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education reviews the standards.
Jindal did not endorse the legislation and was absent from the conversation on the deal, but after much speculation, he signed on to the agreement this week.