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Jindal Suing Over Common Core          08/27 06:23

   BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- Gov. Bobby Jindal planned to file a lawsuit 
Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally 
manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the 
Common Core education standards.

   The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and 
federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards 
and testing. The Republican governor says that "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.

   A draft copy of the lawsuit was provided to The Associated Press by the 
governor's office. Jindal planned to file it Wednesday in the federal court 
based in Baton Rouge.

   The legal challenge puts Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, 
at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, 
bolstering the governor's profile on the issue as he's trying to court 
conservative voters nationwide.

   "The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core 
initiative," Jindal said in a statement. "Common Core is the latest effort by 
big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., 
in control of everything."

   The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what 
students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states 
to allow comparison of students' performance. More than 40 states, including 
Louisiana, have adopted them.

   When the state education board adopted the standards in 2010, Jindal 
supported them, saying they would help students to better prepare for college 
and careers. He reversed course earlier this year, however, and now says he 
opposes the standards because they are an effort by the Obama administration to 
meddle in state education policy.

   The governor's change of heart is not shared by lawmakers, the state 
education board and his hand-picked education superintendent, all of whom 
refuse to jettison Common Core from Louisiana's classrooms. Jindal tried to 
derail use of the standards by suspending testing contracts, but a state judge 
lifted that suspension, calling the governor's actions harmful to parents, 
teachers and students.

   Turning to federal court represents a new tactic in Jindal's efforts to 
undermine Louisiana's use of the standards.

   U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized the governor's 
opposition to Common Core as politically driven. In a June interview with "CBS 
This Morning," the secretary said of Jindal's switched position: "It's about 
politics, it's not about education."

   The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to 
adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant 
program. Two state testing consortia --- the Partnership for Assessment of 
Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced 
Assessment Consortium --- received $330 million from the grant program to 
develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

   "Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize 
curriculum," the lawsuit says. "What started as good state intentions has 
materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal 
economic incentives and duress."

   Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top and joined the 
PARCC consortium. It also received a waiver from certain federal education 
requirements under a program enacted by the Obama administration in 2011 that 
Jindal's lawsuit says was designed to coerce states to use Common Core or risk 
the loss of billions in federal education funding.

   The lawsuit will seek a judge to declare the Department of Education'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 the testing consortia.


(KA)


 
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