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Governor Jindal sues federal government over Common Core

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The Federal government has violated the Tenth Amendment and over-stepped its authority by coercing states to adopt the Common Core Standards, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal claims in a lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court. Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education (DoED) are named as the defendants in the suit, which seeks to ban the requirement that states seeking federal education grants adopt the Common Core Standards and assessments. Additionally, Jindal demands that states will not be penalized for opting out of the Common Core.

The Common Core is an initiative of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The educational standards were developed by a consortium of states, educators and education experts as an option for states seeking guidance in standards development. The Obama Administration endorsed the effort and included participation in the consortium and adoption of the Common Core in its scoring rubric for the Race to the Top competitive grant program.

Race to the Top was authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. States seeking funds submitted applications that were scored based on how well applications met certain criteria. Out of 500 possible points, a state could earn up to 40 points for developing and adopting common standards, 10 points for developing and implementing common assessments and another 20 points for creating a plan to transition to the new standards. To date, 19 states have won Race to the Top grants, although the Common Core standards have been adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia.

“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative. Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything.” — Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Jindal’s complaint claims that DoED’s use of Race to the Top grant money was not what Congress intended. He believes that the administration used the grand money to “herd states together in an effort to nationalize curriculum.” Standards are benchmarks of skills students should acquire at each grade level. Curriculum, which is written at the district level, defines the specific content schools will teach, and the books, software and other tools educators will use, to develop these skills in their students.

Louisiana adopted the Common Core Standards and joined the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) as it entered the Race to the Top competition. PARCC is one of two consortiums (the other is Smarter Balance) of states that are developing assessments for the Common Corer standards. Both groups are Race to the Top grant recipients. Jindal says his state is now “trapped” in a scheme to nationalize curriculum. “Educators know that what’s tested is what’s taught,” Says Jindal. “Make no mistake – Common Core tests will drive curriculum.”

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