Judge Blocks Bobby Jindal's Order Suspending Common Core in Louisiana

Judge Blocks Bobby Jindal's Order Suspending Common Core in Louisiana

A Louisiana district judge sided with Common Core advocates Tuesday by lifting Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive order that suspended contracts with PARCC, one of the federally funded Common Core test consortia.

In his ruling on the plaintiffs’ petition for preliminary injunction, Judge Todd Hernandez asserted there existed a “preponderance of the evidence” that the governor’s plan to exit his state from the Common Core standards and their aligned tests would cause “irreparable harm” to students, teachers, administrators, and parents who have been preparing for implementation of the standards for several years.

“Plaintiff’s harm is time and the loss thereof,” the judge wrote. “With each passing day teachers and parents lose time preparing students for high stake testing, and there is a lot riding on the student’s successful performance on these tests.”

Jindal’s Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin issued a statement immediately following the ruling.

“We think this judge is wrong on the facts and the law,” Plotkin said. “Hopefully, he will reconsider this preliminary ruling at the full trial. In the meantime, we will seek a stay of this ruling and an expedited writ to appeal to the First Circuit.”

According to the Advocate, however, Stephen Kupperman, the lead plaintiffs’ attorney, said the judge’s ruling was “well rooted in evidence.”

“We think it is the right decision for the citizens of this state,” he continued.

State Superintendent of Education John White said Hernandez’s ruling allows teachers and students to continue raising expectations in Louisiana.

“It enables our state to set its aspirations high and to compete with states across the country. Our students are just as smart and capable as any in America,” White said. “We’ve been working for four years to teach them to the highest standards anywhere. Today’s ruling continues that progress.”

Plotkin said the administration wants “to make sure every other agency head in state government knows this judge is wrong. It’s not open season on breaking the procurement law.”

Hernandez’s ruling came in a case brought against the Jindal administration by the charter school foundation Black Alliance for Education Options (BAEO), which argued that Jindal’s executive order was illegal. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) later joined the lawsuit against Jindal as well.

In June, Jindal issued an executive order based on his claim that the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) – one of the consortia that are developing tests aligned with the Common Core standards – did not allow a competitive bidding process, which is required by Louisiana state law. The governor said the state was unable to comply with the June 2010 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Louisiana and PARCC because of its failure to allow for a competitive bidding process.

As KATC.com reported in June, Louisiana’s Division of Administration (DOA), which oversees state contracts, maintained several areas of concern with how the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) procured its contracts with PARCC.

“In 2003, LDOE competitively bid and awarded State educational assessment consulting services to Data Recognition Corporation (DRC),” wrote Interim Office of Contractual Review (OCR) Director Pamela Bartfay Rice in a letter to White and LDOE. “LDOE appears to now be asserting that the existing sole source contract with DRC can be utilized to subcontract with another assessment vendor, PARCC, for future common assessments.”

In short, Rice was suggesting that White attempted to link PARCC, actually a second assessment contractor, to a prior contract in which DRC was the only available contractor.

“If this judge’s ruling stands, it would cause chaos in state government and bring us back to the old days in Louisiana when it was OK to give no-bid contracts to your friends,” warned Plotkin. “The judge took the arguments from Common Core proponents hook, line and sinker.

Plotkin addressed the pro-Common Core argument that the standards do not dictate curriculum.

“But how could it create chaos months out before a test if it’s just about standards?” he asked. “What the proponents of Common Core have proved in this case is that Common Core is about controlling curriculum.”

On Friday, Louisiana district Judge Tim Kelley rejected a request from 17 state lawmakers to block the continuing implementation of the Common Core standards.


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