Continuing his campaign against the Common Core State Standards and aligned tests, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told an audience at a conservative nonprofit group’s luncheon that the standards represent a grave threat to parental power over their children’s schooling, and expressed confidence that common-core foes would eventually win.
At a Feb. 5 event hosted by the American Principles Project, which opposes the common core, Jindal, a Republican, used the standards to attack Washington bureaucracy, which he claimed forced the standards on states and was now controlling curriculum in the nation’s schools in a way that would fail to teach students Amercan exceptionalism. He also decried corporate interests and other groups which he said believe that parents do not know what is in the best interest of their children’s education.
“I ask them to slow down and listen to these parents. Don’t insult them,” Jindal said of parents opposed to the standards.
He also mentioned in subsequent remarks to the press that while he agrees with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush about many K-12 policies, specifically those that emphasize school choice, the two disagree about the common core.
Citing the work of parent activists like Sara Wood in his home state, Jindal, who like Bush is considered a potential 2016 presidential candidate, told the crowd, “I have more confidence in the moms in this room than any collection of bureaucrats.” He added that “elites” in Washington and elsewhere who back the standards “think they’re better than you.”
Here’s the standard boilerplate you should know regarding the federal government and the common core: Washington did not write, pay for, or mandate the standards. But the U.S. Department of Education did provide incentives for states to adopt the standards when it awarded additional points on federal Race to the Top grant applications to states that did so, at a time (about six years ago) when many states’ education budgets had been cut significantly. The department did pay for the development of aligned tests by two consortia of states, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and Smarter Balanced. By law, the federal government cannot create a national curriculum in schools.
Stressing that American public schools are not simply a way to turn students into economically productive workers, Jindal also told the American Principles Project audience that schools should reflect what makes U.S. education successful: “The common denominator is, we said: ‘We trust parents.’”
Once a supporter of the standards, Jindal last year sued both the Louisiana board of education and the federal government in order to try to halt the standards and the state’s use of the PARCC tests. (To explain his reversal, Jindal told reporters after his Feb. 5 remarks that the initial state-led effort became a “bait and switch” pulled off by Washington.) So far, those efforts have been unsuccessful, althought the suits are still working their way through the courts.
Jindal’s latest gambit against the common core has been to request that the state school board—which, along with state Superintendent John White, has rejected Jindal’s push against the standards and PARCC—allow students to take a state test other than PARCC, citing growing concerns among parents about the test. (The state board immediately declined to do so.)
Jindal so far has not explicitly called for parents to opt out of PARCC. But the Associated Press reported Feb. 5 that while so far just a handful of parents have held their students out of PARCC, state officials are concerned that more parents will opt out and disrupt the state’s testing regimen, which informs the state’s teacher, school, and district accountability systems. The tests are slated to be administered starting in March.
In his Thursday speech, Jindal asserted that the common core is failing just as the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare) is failing citizens when it comes to affordable and desirable health care. The governor also said of his and others’ fight against the common core: “I’m confident we’re going to win.”
For a detailed history of the common core and PARCC in Louisiana, see my timeline below:
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.