Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration on the grounds that it is illegally “manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards”.
According to the US Department of Education, it has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt the uniform education standards and testing.
These things, Jindal says,”effectively force states down a path toward a national curriculum” which, in his opinion, violates the state sovereignty clause found in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content, reports Associated Press.
Jindal is a possible 2016 presidential candidate and has put himself at the apex of the dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, thereby establishing his firm stance on the issue as he courts conservative voters.
“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”
More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core standards for math and English, which are used as benchmarks to establish what students should know after completing each grade level.
Jindal, who supported the standards in 2010, now says they are an attempt by the Obama administration to intrude in the state education policy. Louisiana lawmakers, the state education board, and the education superintendent do not agree. They say the governor is putting students, parents, and teachers in harm’s way.
US Education Secretary Arne Duncan says Jindal’s stance is political. “It’s about politics; it’s not about education.”
“The Common Core State Standards have been fundamental expectations in Louisiana for four years because our kids are just as smart and capable as any in America. The courts have ruled, and it is time to move on,” state education department spokesman Barry Landry said in a statement.
Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top, joined the PARCC consortium, and received a waiver from certain requirements under the No Child Left Behind program part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), according to FoxNews and Associated Press.
The suit being brought against the Obama administration asks the judge to declare unconstitutional the department’s actions and to stop the department from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top grants because of refusal to adopt the Common Core or to participate in one of two designated testing consortia (PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Assessment) which are both tied to waiver approval.
“Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum,” the lawsuit says. “What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”
There are some Louisiana educators, parents, and students who do not agree with the teaching style tied to the Common Core, which they call fuzzy and confusing, and they believe that it does more harm than good, according to Cheryl K. Chumley writing for The Washington Times.