On Tuesday, the administration of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) filed a lawsuit to invalidate the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Common Core consortium PARCC on the basis that the MOU attempts to improperly delegate the constitutional authority of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the state legislature to a consortium of other states.
According to a press release from Jindal’s office, the lawsuit argues that the MOU offends state sovereignty and that the non-delegation doctrine, recognized in both federal and state law, is based on the principle that certain powers given to the state are prohibited from being delegated to other public or non-public entities.
“BESE has no authority to delegate or assign to any person or entity its obligations for developing and implementing educational policy as provided by the constitution and the legislature,” states the lawsuit.
The suit also indicates, “The PARCC Memorandum requires participating states to ‘support the work of the Consortium,'” which includes the development of the procedures and by-laws of the consortium, and the adoption of common assessment administration procedures, item release policies, test security policy, definition of “English learner,” accommodations for students with disabilities, and the “college- and career-ready” standards themselves.
Since Louisiana originally agreed to be a “governing state” of PARCC, this meant the state could “not be a member of any other consortium.”
“In simple terms, the non-delegation doctrine protects the democratic process by preventing a constitutional body from assigning or transferring its constitutional obligations to other public or private entities,” said Jimmy Faircloth, the Jindal administration’s outside counsel. “By its clear terms, the PARCC MOU purports to commit the development of Louisiana education policy to a private non-Louisiana entity controlled by a ‘Governing Board’ consisting of individuals who are completely unaccountable to Louisiana voters.”
“The procurement dispute is a result of the illusion that the PARCC MOU somehow insults the assessment process from the strictures of state law,” Faircloth continued. “It squarely demonstrates the very harm that the non-delegation doctrine is intended to prevent.”
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is one of two multi-state test consortia that have received funding from the federal government to develop assessments that are aligned with the Common Core standards.
The suit comes as the heated debate between Jindal’s administration and state superintendent John White and BESE continues.
Also on Tuesday, BESE voted to join a lawsuit against Jindal that is being funded by black education group The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). The suit claims that Jindal is illegally trying to remove the state from the controversial nationalized standards and their aligned assessments.
According to nola.com, while BESE president Chas Roemer said it was important for BESE to join the suit because it was crucial that the board “be at the table,” the board’s senior member, Walter Lee, said it was not necessary for BESE to take a position on the lawsuit, and that the court would determine the constitutional questions. Lee and BESE members Lottie Beebe, Carolyn Hill, and Jane Smith voted against the motion to join the lawsuit.
Last week, 17 Louisiana lawmakers also filed a lawsuit in Baton Rouge district court that seeks an immediate suspension of the Common Core standards in the state’s schools.