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Washington Post: Jindal puts politics ahead of students

The Washington Post

First Published Sep 01 2014 03:23 pm • Last Updated Sep 01 2014 03:42 pm

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s efforts to withdraw his state from the Common Core State Standards were successfully rebuffed by members of his own administration. His attempted end-run to the courts was smacked down by a state judge who said the Republican governor’s actions harmed parents, teachers and students. That should have been the end of the matter, particularly with school starting, but sadly Jindal seems more intent on burnishing his conservative credentials for a presidential run than in serving the interests of students.

The result is a misguided lawsuit against the Obama administration that even those who share Jindal’s newly discovered disdain for the Common Core give little chance of success. The federal suit filed Thursday accuses the U.S. Department of Education of unlawfully coercing states to adopt the rigorous new academic standards by using the cudgel of federal grants. Never mind that the federal grant programs in question are completely voluntary for states. Never mind that the academic standards originated with and were pushed by states and their governors, with the feds having no official role in their development.

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Jindal knows these facts since he was once an enthusiastic supporter of the standards. In 2010 he signed a memorandum of understanding for Louisiana to take part in the Common Core and development of new assessments; in 2012 his administration pushed to strengthen the state’s commitment. As The Post’s Lyndsey Layton pointed out, Jindal didn’t mention government overreach, illegality or coercion when Louisiana entered the voluntary competition for Race to the Top funds with a commitment to the higher standards of Common Core.

The state eventually was awarded a $17.4 million grant. In addition, Louisiana, along with a number of other states, was granted a waiver from some of the restrictive requirements of No Child Left Behind based in part on its adoption of Common Core. States that have since broken their promise — and, unfortunately, Jindal is not the lone governor abandoning his support in the face of political opposition — should expect consequences. A day after Jindal filed his suit, Education Secretary Arne Duncan appropriately decided not to extend a federal waiver to Oklahoma, which had reverted to its previous mediocre reading and math standards after dropping Common Core.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, another Republican born-again opponent of Common Core, said she finds it outrageous that Washington is trying to dictate how Oklahoma schools spend education dollars. What’s really outrageous is that children are being educationally shortchanged by standards that don’t adequately prepare them for college or careers while officials who should know better grandstand and go to court to defend that injustice.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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