Opening yet another front in his increasingly complex battle against Common Core, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is suing the federal government over the standards.
Jindal’s suit claims that the government, by using federal education grants to encourage the standards’ adoption, has illegally infringed upon states’ sovereignty in the issue of education.
“The proponents of Common Core will tell you that it’s simply about one test and about standards, but that’s a ruse. Common Core is about controlling curriculum,” Jindal said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. “These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards.”
The lawsuit, the third to involve Jindal and Common Core in the last two months, is directed against the Department of Education as well as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
Common Core, a set of standards in math and English, was created in a collaborative process by the various state governors, including Jindal, without direct federal involvement.
However, after their creation, the federal government incentivized Common Core’s adoption in several ways. First, stimulus funds were offered to states through the Race to the Top program which awarded monetary prizes to states that were the most aggressive in reforming their school systems.
One way a school could increase its chances of winning money was by adopting Common Core. In addition, the government provided funding to two consortia, PARCC and Smarter Balanced, that are creating common standardized tests to be used by multiple states that have adopted Common Core.
That federal involvement, Jindal claims, is illegal, contradicting “50 years of Congressional policy forbidding federal direction or control of curriculum, the cornerstone of education policy.” Jindal’s lawsuit seeks to strike Common Core-related components from Race to the Top.
Notably, even if Jindal wins, his suit can have no effect on the legality of Common Core itself, only on how the federal government has interacted with it.
Jindal’s challenge is the fourth lawsuit concerning Common Core in Louisiana and the third involving the governor. Once a supporter of the standards, in 2014 Jindal has repositioned himself as one of the country’s most ardent opponents. He is currently locked in a pair of dueling lawsuits with his own state school board, which has defied a pair of executive orders from Jindal that seek to repeal Common Core in Louisiana.
So far, state-level legal battles have gone against Jindal, with the school board winning a preliminary injunction that allows them to continue implementing Common Core.
Critics, including Secretary Duncan, have described Jindal’s actions as a politically motivated effort to win support among Republicans prior to a 2016 presidential bid.
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