Fox News reports that Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has sued the federal government over federal intrusion into state education policy. His suit cites the concerns of many Common Core opponents that the federal grant program tied to Common Core “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum.” Fox News describes the nature of the lawsuit as follows:
“In the suit, Jindal argues that the Education Department’s $4.3 billion grant program ‘effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum’ in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The suit asks a judge to declare the department’s actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of two state testing consortia tied to the department’s grant program.”
In June, Jindal tried to unilaterally reverse the use of the Common Core Standards in his state by suspending the state’s contract with PARCC, the Common Core aligned testing consortium, and by ordering the state department of education to develop new standards. A state judge halted Jindal’s actions. Fox News asserts Jindal’s suit in federal court is an alternative means to “undermine” Louisiana’s use of Common Core.
Governor Jindal was one of the early backers of Common Core along with other prominent Republican Governors such as Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels. Jindal says his change of stance is a result of the federal government’s intrusion into the standards’ implementation and the coercive means that were used to force states to adopt them.
But many are skeptical of Jindal’s motives and claim his actions are politically motivated as he positions himself for a suspected run for the presidency. The Washington Free Beacon addresses this point in its article on Jindal’s suit and provides quotes from several publications and individuals.
The Beacon also quoted the Cato Institute’s Neil McCluskey who shot down the criticism,
“We should look at the merits of the lawsuit, which requires an honest assessment of both the Constitution and federal education statutes, just as we should look at the research on national standards, the content of the Core, and the reality of how so many states adopted standards that are now heavily disliked. Do those things, and I think the Core loses hands down.”
The question for Ohioans is what will Governor Kasich do? Kasich is also a possible presidential contender, and as governor, Kasich has the opportunity to lead on this issue with a Common Core repeal bill (HB 597) working its way through the state legislature.
But Kasich has been known to fall prey to federal arm-twisting if one considers his actions with respect to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Unlike Jindal, Kasich may not have the gumption to stand up to the federal government on the issue of Common Core.
And Ohio Assembly members know that Kasich hasn’t been shy about using some coercive measures of his own when he forced Medicaid expansion through the Controlling Board after failing to get the state legislature to agree to accept the federal dollars attached to the program.
So Ohio parents will need to watch closely to see whose lead Kasich follows when it comes to Common Core – his fellow Republican Governors like Jindal and Oklahoma’s Mary Fallin, who recently stood with her state and repealed the standards, or the U.S. Department of Education.