Louisiana Auditor: Common Core Isn’t Obama Plot

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The auditor of the state of Lousiana, who produces nonpartisan analysis for the state’s legislature, has released a requested issue brief on the state’s adoption of Common Core.

Auditor Daryl Purpera’s findings go sharply against the claims of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has launched a high profile lawsuit against the federal government over the standards.

Jindal, a supporter of Common Core as recently as last year, now compares the standards to the policies of the Soviet Union and describes them as “the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”

Jindal claims in his lawsuit that the federal government forced the adoption of Common Core by giving adopters a boost in their candidacy for federal Race to the Top stimulus funds. Such an incentive, Jindal argues, constitute illegal intrusion by the federal government into state education authority, and also expose Common Core as a federal plot to nationalize school curricula.

The auditor’s analysis, though couched in very neutral language, suggests that Jindal’s assertions are bunk. Common Core, the analysis says, in no way mandates a particular curriculum for schools.

“Standards are not the same thing as curricula, textbooks, lesson plans or classroom activities and assignments,” says the report. “Those are the tools by which teachers and students learn; the choice of which materials teachers use continues to be a state and local decision.” The report’s declarations go flatly against the argument that Common Core creates a federally controlled curriculum.

Also rebutting Jindal’s claims is Purpera’s description of the Core’s creation, which never even mentions a federal role. The report notes that Common Core began as a wholly state-run venture, with “overwhelming support from the states.” Before the federal government had even tied Race to the Top to Common Core in any way, 48 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia had begun contributing to the new standards.

Nor was Common Core crafted and implemented under a veil of secrecy, says the report. Public comment was solicited twice during the standards’ creation, in September 2009 as well as March 2010, and before Louisiana adopted the standards no fewer than 10 different state education organizations, from the Louisiana Association of Principles to the Association of Teachers of Mathematics, had the chance to review them.

The auditor’s findings lend support to the many Common Core supporters, both Democrats and Republicans, who have accused Jindal of attacking Common Core not out of genuine political conviction, but rather with an eye towards boosting his chances in a possible 2016 presidential run.

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