Lawsuit Seeks to Put Common Core Back on Track in Louisiana

A group of parents, teachers, and a foundation that runs charter schools have filed a lawsuit alleging that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (R) lacks the authority to withdraw his state from the Common Core State Standards, the Washington Post reports.

An early proponent of the Common Core, Jindal, a possible 2016 presidential contender, became less supportive of the standards as they came under fire from anti-government Tea Party groups. After unsuccessfully lobbying the state legislature to abandon Common Core, the governor announced in June that he was unilaterally withdrawing Louisiana from the K-12 standards — two months before they were to be implemented. When Louisiana's superintendent of education, backed by the state board of education, indicated that the state would stay the course, Jindal blocked the procurement of new state assessments aligned with the standards. Although the standards were developed by a bipartisan group of governors and chief state school officers — with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — Jindal has said he came to see it as a federal takeover of public education, traditionally a local affair.

According to Stephen H. Kupperman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, the lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction to stop Jindal from interfering in the implementation of the standards and the procurement of new tests. Through a spokesperson, Jindal said the lawsuit has "no merit" and state law gives him the responsibility for overseeing state contracts. A district court hearing is scheduled for August 4.

Jindal's change of heart has upset teachers, who are unsure what they will be teaching when the new school year begins in August, said James Swanson, a board member of the Choice Foundation, which runs three K-8 charter schools in New Orleans and is one of the plaintiffs. "We devoted a great deal of energy in embracing and adopting the Common Core standards," he added. "We spent a lot of money on professional development, materials, and software to make sure our kids were learning the standards in the best possible way....We believe these standards do a great job in identifying what concepts our kids should learn."

"We think the governor has overstepped his bounds and doesn't have any right to do this," said Kupperman. "We don't want to hold the children of the state hostage to somebody's political ambitions."