Louisiana will be required to seek a new state assessment and dump the Common Core State Standards in favor of new standards, according to a June 18 announcement from Gov. Bobby Jindal. He also said he is requiring the state board to seek the new state assessment through a competitive-bidding process.
But Jindal faces a fight on his hands from state Superintendent John White and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, who say that Jindal has no legal power to unilaterally force the state to pick new standards and new tests.
In a five-point plan, outlined in an afternoon news conference, Jindal, a Republican and a one-time common-core supporter, said he has told the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, the two groups that oversaw the creation of the standards, that the state is dropping the common core.
He also said that the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, in seeking to use the test from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (one of two federally funded consortia developing aligned assessments), did not follow state procurement laws and must therefore seek a new test through the competitive process.
"The comprehensive solution is for Louisiana to develop our own standards and our own tests," Jindal said, adding that this would give more power to local officials.
Below, courtesy of Elizabeth Crisp of The Advocate newspaper, based in Baton Rouge, is the plan Jindal outlined, saying that he has:
In his remarks, Jindal repeatedly attacked the federal government's involvement with the common core.
"We will not cede this responsibility to the federal government," he said, referring to standards and tests.
The common core is supported by the Obama administration, and the U.S. Department of Education gave particularly high marks to states for adopting the common core in their applications for Race to the Top grants, but the federal government did not write the standards.
Jindal was adamant that his actions, including his executive order, mean that Louisiana will soon be clear of the common core and the PARCC tests. In fact, Jindal argued that simply by dumping PARCC, the state would really be dropping the common core, although the standards and tests are different.
But White and the state board have consistently refused to change their support for the common core and the assessments aligned to the standards. Anti-common core bills in various guises failed to make it to Jindal's desk during the recently concluded legislative session.
In remarks made before Jindal's announcement, White indicated that the ongoing feud over common core could ultimately become a legal battle. Jindal's announcement Wednesday could trigger that court fight.
After Jindal's press conference, White said that the state board retains ultimate authority over the state's standards and tests. "These are in the state's laws," he said. But asked whether he foresaw a lawsuit based on Jindal's remarks, White declined to comment.
State board President Chas Roemer blamed Jindal's new attacks on the common core on his political aims, which have a "national scope." (Jindal is broadly considered to be eyeing a run for president in 2016.)
"They're maneuvers that run contrary to the democratic process and the laws of this state," Roemer said. " ...The governor doesn't have the authority that he's articulating that he [has]."
Initially, the governor supported the common core. In a video, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce touted Jindal's support for the standards. But in recent months he's become vocally opposed to the standards. In April, Jindal spokeswoman Shannon Bates, linked the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit against the state's voucher program to the standards, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The DOJ lawsuit demonstrates how overreaching the federal government can be," she said. "... As a result, we have serious concerns with Common Core."
In his June 18 remarks, Jindal acknowledged that he once supported the standards, but no longer does as (Jindal says) more stories about Washington's involvement with the standards have become public.