Federal Judge Rejects La. Gov. Bobby Jindal’s Bid to Block Common Core

By Andrew Ujifusa — September 16, 2015 2 min read
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A federal judge has rejected Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s quest to get the Common Core State Standards blocked on a national basis, stating in her rejection of the governor’s quest for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday that the standards don’t represent an improper intrusion into education by Washington.

In a lawsuit filed last year, Jindal, a Republican, claimed that the U.S. Department of Education illegally used the Race to the Top grant program to coerce states to adopt the standards. The governor also said in his suit that the standards were part of an illegal attempt by the federal government to intrude into classroom instruction, and that states faced punishment under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act if they tried to drop the standards.

But in her 33-page ruling, Judge Shelly Dick of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana comprehensively rejected Jindal’s arguments and denied Jindal’s quest for a preliminary injunction to block the common core.

UPDATE: According to the Associated Press, Jindal’s attorney announced that he will appeal Dick’s ruling on his request for a preliminary injunction. The attorney, Jimmy Faircloth, said, “The district court interprets the statutes to allow the federal government to construct a scheme to avoid clear, constitutionally-based restrictions on federal authority over state sovereignty.”

On the subject of the Race to the Top grants, for example, Dick wrote that, “The evidence showed that Jindal knowingly and enthusiastically committed the State to both the CCSS and the PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] assessments, with full knowledge of their purposes, in order to receive federal RTT dollars. There is simply no evidence that the State of Louisiana was forced to apply for the RTT grant or forced to adopt a particular set of standards.”

Dick also wrote that states had received flexibility from the No Child Left Behind Act, the current incarnation of the ESEA, without adopting the common core, and had not lost federal money unfairly after deciding not to use the standards. (Oklahoma lost its NCLB waiver last year after dropping the common core, but regained it after the state’s institutes of higher education signed off on the state’s replacement standards, which happen to be the standards the state used right before the common core.)

In conclusion, the judge wrote:

“In fact, the alleged injuries that Jindal anticipates, should the State discontinue use of the CCSS, appear to be purely speculative considering similar actions taken by other States that have not suffered the anticipated consequences. Jindal failed to introduce any reliable evidence that the CCSS go beyond establishing standards and assessments and encroach upon the area of curriculum.”

(By the way, for you federal policy afficionados, in part of the ruling, Dick refers to the “widespread failure of NCLB.”)

Jindal, a GOP presidential candidate, has led a multi-front opposition to the common core in Louisiana, but so far with limited success. The state is reviewing the common core, but it’s unclear that the standards will change a great deal as a result of that review. And Louisiana kept the PARCC exam this year, which is common-core aligned, despite the governor’s efforts to ditch it.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.