Bobby Jindal on Common Core: From Supporter To Aggressive Opponent

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

Many governors were for the Common Core standards initiative before they were against it, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is among them. What distinguishes him from others, however, is his effort to understand why parents and teachers oppose it and his ultimate about-face to aggressively challenge the federal boondoggle, even in the courts.

Jindal has referred to the Common Core initiative as a “bait and switch,” and Louisiana certainly did take the bait. The state received some $17 million from the Race to the Top (RttT) federal grant program and a waiver from No Child Left Behind – tempting carrots offered to states that would then have to agree to certain federal regulations such as “uniform” standards, testing, and student data collection. Louisiana would then join the federally funded Common Core test consortium known as PARCC.

Since then, however, Jindal has heard the complaints of many parents in his state and has said that as a parent himself he could see the difficulties his own son was having with Common Core math. Ultimately, he unveiled an aggressive plan to eliminate Common Core in Louisiana, one that exposed how the state board of education and department of education can attempt to work around government rules and the state legislature in order to meet its own goals.

In joining a lawsuit in his state with legislators opposed to the Common Core standards, Jindal stated, “Under the law, the standards should have been advertised to the public to give parents and community members an opportunity to see the standards and comment on them as state standards were promulgated in previous years.”

Jindal’s action ultimately served to place even greater emphasis on the fact that most state boards of education and departments of education are supporters of the Common Core standards and are representing the wishes of the federal government in the states.

At the end of May, Louisiana’s anti-Common Core lawmakers succeeded in negotiating a deal that will eventually rid the state of Common Core. Upon endorsing the plan, Jindal’s office told Breitbart News, “We are supportive of this compromise now that the Superintendent and BESE [Board of Elementary and Secondary Education] have listened to the concerns of parents, legislators and the administration about the make-up of the standards review commission. The next step will be to elect leaders who are committed to getting rid of Common Core.”

Now, as Jindal prepares his 2016 presidential campaign, he will be the only sitting governor thus far to sue the Obama administration over its intrusion into the right of states and local governments to decide their own education policy and curriculum.

Nationally syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt and fellow law professor John Eastman recently wrote that Jindal’s lawsuit against the Obama administration’s Department of Education could be as significant as the court’s decision in Texas to halt Obama’s executive amnesty.

The lawsuit, likely to be decided this summer, claims the Obama administration illegally manipulated states into adopting the Common Core initiative with federal grant money and waivers from the restrictions of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The governor argues that the U.S. Department of Education, under Secretary Arne Duncan, used the $4.3 billion RttT grant program and federal policy waivers to lure states into adopting the uniform “college and career ready” education standards and their aligned testing.

As a result of its manipulation, Jindal claims states were forced “down a path toward a national curriculum,” which is in violation of the Tenth Amendment and other federal laws.

“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement, one that conveyed the fact that he believed at one time that the education reform might have been a positive undertaking. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”

“Common Core was never supposed to be a top-down government-run approach,” Jindal told Fox News’ Chris Wallace last December. “I’ve never been for the federal government making curriculum decisions. It was supposed to be voluntary standards. This was a bait and switch. The Race to the Top was never supposed to be about Common Core and that’s why we’re suing the federal government.”

Louisiana parent, attorney, and anti-Common Core grassroots activist Sara Wood tells Breitbart News that Jindal engaged in important conversations with parents in his state.

“What impressed me with Gov. Jindal, was that he actually listened to the parents and their complaints about Common Core and acknowledged the wrongs,” she said. “In doing this as governor, he legitimized the serious concerns and complaints surrounding the Common Core and making Common Core undeniably newsworthy.”

Wood explained how Jindal’s turnabout on Common Core is different from that of other politicians who claim to no longer support the education reform.

“Though initially a supporter, Jindal bravely took a stand to stop Common Core, upon realizing that it was not turning out to be what he had wanted for Louisiana,” she said. “Everyone makes mistakes and is susceptible to misinformation, even great leaders; but what keeps them truly great for posterity, in one respect, is that ability to recognize a wrong, own up, correct it, and move forward.”

“Jindal did this in opposing Common Core and in the actions that he has taken to stop it, despite a tremendous amount of criticism, and for that I am grateful,” Wood added. “It is a quality for consideration, as he makes his bid for the presidency of the United States.”


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