Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Wednesday that he’s running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, bringing with him a K-12 record heavy on the Common Core State Standards and school choice.
Jindal made the announcement on his website, and also had scheduled a speech discussing his campaign later the same day.
UPDATE: In that speech, Jindal place a lot of stress on his school choice accomplishments. Referring to the state’s expansion of vouchers (more on that below), Jindal told the audience at his announcement that, “Now we have statewide school choice because every child deserves an equal opportunity for a great education,” and added, “We made the dollars follow the child ... We trust the parents, not the bureaucrats to make the best decisions for their kids.”
He justified the state’s expanding choice program by stating that “every child deserves an equal opportunity for a great education.”
Despite his fervent opposition to the common core (again, read on for more background), he only mentioned the standards briefly. He argued that unlike other Republicans, he hasn’t “just talked about” ending the common core but said that he has actually gotten rid of it. For the record, Jindal has not ended the common core or the associated test.
Initially a supporter of the common core, Jindal has perhaps been more aggressive than any other elected official in switching sides and then attacking the standards, as well as the aligned test from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). He has made numerous, albeit unsuccessful attempts in state court to ditch the standards and PARCC. He still has an anti-common-core lawsuit against the federal government moving ahead in federal court.
In the process, he’s clashed with the Louisiana state board and schools Superintendent John White, both of whom support the standards and PARCC and have vigorously opposed Jindal at every turn during the dispute.
Although Jindal recently agreed to sign legislation (backed by White and the state board) that authorizes a review of the standards and the potential role of the PARCC test in Louisiana, he has cast the deal as an avenue for the state to get rid of the common core.
However, Jindal and White are on the same page when it comes to the state’s voucher program. They’ve joined forces to defend the program in the face of a legal challenge from the federal government, which alleged the state ignored mandated school desegregation plans in issuing the vouchers.
Jindal approved a statewide expansion of vouchers in 2012 to cover a greater range of students based on their household income and the rating of the public schools they attended. In a Washington Post op-ed published in 2013, Jindal wrote that "[President Barack] Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder would rip children out of their [voucher] schools and handcuff them to the failing schools they previously attended.”
Education could be a way for Jindal to distinguish himself from the field (which according to the New York Times now features 13 official candidates) at least somewhat. Despite his change of heart about the standards, there’s a possibility he could highlight his recent record on the common core as a way to attack former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a prominent common-core supporter.
Photo: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during The Family Leadership Summit last August in Ames, Iowa. Charlie Neibergall/AP-File
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.