Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education, charging that the federal government coerced states into adopting the Common Core education standards.
The Department of Education made about $4 billion available to states through “Race to the Top” grants and provided waivers from the No Child Left Behind law as an incentive to adopt Common Core standards. Such incentives were tantamount to coercion through funding, Jindal is arguing.
“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said in a statement Wednesday. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum.”
The lawsuit says that the two testing consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC, are pushing a national curriculum.
In 2010, to meet “Race to the Top” grant requirements, Louisiana entered into a memorandum of understanding with PARCC.
“The good intentions of Common Core and the ‘voluntariness’ of PARCC participation have proven to be illusory,” the lawsuit states. “In fact, Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum. What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”
The suit also says the Department of Education changed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to push states into adopting the federal government’s preferred test or risk losing federal money.
“Through the federally funded consortia, PARCC, along with Race to the Top grants, the federal government has coerced states into giving up local control of education,” Jindal said, “The federal government’s actions are in violation of the Constitution and federal law and we will continue to fight to protect local control of education.”
Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and initially adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia.
The two testing consortia were awarded $360 million through Race to the Top grants, according to U.S. News and World Report, which points out that Jindal previously supported Common Core. Jindal is also engaged in separate a state lawsuit with the state Board of Education over the Common Core standards.