Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that the Obama administration used federal grants and regulations to coerce states to adopt and implement Common Core standards. Jindal claimed that the federal government violated federal law and the 10th Amendment of the Constitution when taking those actions.
The lawsuit, which names the US Department of Education and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as defendants, charges that “through regulatory and rule making authority, Defendants have constructed a scheme that effectively forces States down a path toward a national curriculum.”
“The good intentions of Common Core and the “voluntariness” of PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers] participation have proven to be illusory. In fact, Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum. What started as good State intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress,” read the suit.
The suit cited the Department of Education Organization Act of 1979 (DEOA) to demonstrate the federal government’s alleged overreach:
“The establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the Federal Government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the States and the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the States.”
The lawsuit also cited the Constitution and its 10th Amendment, stating “The Constitution makes no provision for federal power in setting education policy. Thus, as acknowledged by the Department, ‘the federal role in education is limited. Because of the Tenth Amendment, most education policy is decided at the state and local levels.’”
Louisiana adopted Common Core standards in 2010, and had planned a full transition to the standards between 2014 and 2015. Jindal was a supporter of Common Core at the time and had said it would “raise expectations for every child” in 2012. However, Jindal has changed his tune over the last year. Duncan dismissed Jindal’s reversal of support as politically motivated, saying his new position on Common Core was “about politics, it’s not about education.”
The suit seeks to have a judge declare the DOE’s actions unconstitutional and to not allow states that do not use Common Core standards or testing to be disqualified from receiving federal funding.